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Pingo Canadian Landmark

Research and Monitoring

Researcher on Ibyuk Pingo recording data
Researcher on Ibyuk Pingo
© Parks Canada

Pingo Canadian Landmark has been the focus of nearly fifty years of research, primarily in the area of permafrost features. Some of this work has led to the current theory of the origin and growth of pingos (see J. Ross Mackay below). Researchers have also gained valuable knowledge about the region's ecosystems by studying the ecological features of the landmark.

In addition to promoting research, Parks Canada and its partners have made a commitment, in the landmark's Memorandum of Agreement, to long-term monitoring for the following priorities:

  1. Tuktoyaktuk climate;
  2. Split Hill and Ibyuk Pingo elevational changes;
  3. impacts of visitors and natural erosion on pingo and sensitive area vegetative cover;
  4. active layer thickness; and
  5. visitor use.

Monitoring has also been done on the rates of coastal erosion along the Arctic Ocean.

J. Ross Mackay

J. Ross Mackay
J. Ross Mackay
© Christopher Burn / August, 2004

Much of what we currently know about pingos and many other permafrost features can be linked to the work of Dr. J. Ross Mackay. In a career spanning more than half a century, the Professor Emeritus in Geography at the University of British Columbia gained international scientific recognition for his research on permafrost environments.

Mackay's work in the western Arctic began in1951. Over the next four decades he returned many times to study the permafrost features of the area. Both Ibyuk Pingo and the exposed bed of massive ice near Peninsula Point were studied extensively by Mackay. Much of the current theory of pingo origin and development is the result of his countless hours of fieldwork. Not only has this information been important in furthering our understanding of permafrost environments, but it will also be invaluable to future researchers studying such topics as climate change.

Societies and educational institutions around the world have recognized the work of Dr. J. Ross Mackay. In addition to numerous awards and honourary degrees, Mackay was awarded the Order of Canada in 1982 and was the first recipient of the Centenary Medal for Northern Science in 1984.