Remote Sensing of Permafrost by Ground-Penetrating Radar at Two Airports in Arctic Canada


  • A.S. Judge
  • C.M. Tucker
  • J.A. Pilon
  • B.J. Moorman



Airports, Climate change, Design and construction, Effects monitoring, Frozen ground, Ground ice, Permafrost, Permafrost surveys, Remote sensing, Satellite photography, Spatial distribution, Stratigraphy, Thawing, Inuvik region, N.W.T., Rankin Inlet (Hamlet) region, Nunavut


Over a cycle of seasons, ground-penetrating radar studies were carried out at Inuvik and Rankin Inlet, Northwest Territories. The two airports are part of the Forward Operating Location (FOL) program of the Department of National Defence and have been slated for significant upgrading of runways, taxiways and parking aprons. This provided a good opportunity to investigate the extent of permafrost and its seasonal variation at two locations distributed over a wide geographic area. The study method involved specific and repeated traverses with a Pulse EKKO III ground-penetrating radar unit. The survey was successful in locating massive ice bodies, imaging several existing problem areas beneath runways and mapping the seasonal depth of thaw in permafrost. The study results imply that future monitoring at FOL sites should be continued in light of suggested ground stability problems due to global warming.

Key words: Canadian Arctic, ground-penetrating radar, permafrost, global warming,  airport, Forward Operating Location