I’m a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning and the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. I’ve been conducting research in the Yukon and Alaska annually since 1996, but this is my first foray into the Northwest Territories.
I have been running a research program studying alpine treeline dynamics in the Kluane region of southwest Yukon since 2008. The program has supported the research of seven graduate students and five undergraduate students. All told, this research represents the most complete record of forest-tundra change in the Canadian boreal cordillera, and it provides a critical benchmark for identifying the types of change that may be expected with continued climate warming.
However, it is not clear how transferable our results from southwest Yukon are to other regions of North America, especially regions not influenced by steep altitudinal gradients. As my students and I continued to generate new findings from the Yukon, I was always nagged by the question as to whether the same types of change were being observed across the vast expanse of central Canada, where the gradient from forest to tundra is much more gradual – extending over hundreds of kilometres as opposed to hundreds of metres as it does in the mountains.
With C2T2, I am finally able to begin exploring this important question about the geography of Canada!