Churchill, Manitoba, Canada — Global warming is most dramatically visible at the edge of the Arctic, where peatlands run in a broad strip around the globe. These wetlands contain as much as 20% of the world’s carbon, usually locked in permafrost. But as the permafrost thaws, carbon dioxide and methane — the most pernicious greenhouse gases — may be released, which in turn could increase the rate of global warming, with devastating implications for the planet. What happens to the peat here will not only alter the local ecosystem, but also the entire biosphere. You can help monitor ecosystem responses and gather data on the potential impacts of this phenomenon — before it’s too late.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. LeeAnn Fishback
Churchill Northern Studies Centre
LeeAnn Fishback, Ph.D., CNSC, is an environmental geochemist focusing on freshwater lake and pond water chemistry in arctic and subarctic regions. She lives in Churchill, Manitoba full-time as a northern field research scientist. Her passion for the north has grown over the past 20 years, and she enjoys living in the remote areas of the country. LeeAnn received her Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario in 2002, and has been the scientific coordinator at CNSC for the last eight years. In addition, she is an adjunct professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she teaches and supervises students. She enjoys the rigors of winter, including snowmobile rides, snowshoeing, and curling up with a good book on a blizzard day. The change of seasons throughout the year means that there is never a dull moment!
Dr. Steven Mamet
University of Saskatchewan, Department of Biology
Steven Mamet completed his B.Sc. & M.Sc./Ph.D. in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences under Dr. Peter Kershaw at the University of Alberta. He joined the Northern Plant Ecology Lab (NPEL) in Aug 2012. His graduate research focused on range limits of tree species at northern treelines, and how climate and environmental change shape treeline dynamics. His NPEL work evaluates range limits at treeline near Wolf Creek, YT, and assesses climate variation and forest resilience along moisture gradients in central Saskatchewan.
Dr. Ben Cash
Dr. Ben Cash is a wetland ecologist specializing in the ecology of vertebrate species adapted to wetland habitats. His experience ranges from the study of basic ecology and diversity of ephemeral wetlands in the southeastern US coastal plain, to water quality measurement and ecology of natural oxbow lakes in the Mississippi Delta. He has worked in Churchill since 2003 researching the biology of the wood frog and boreal chorus frog as well as the stickleback fish. Ben began his diverse biological training at Piedmont College in northeast Georgia where he was first exposed to the world of ecology and herpetology. He then obtained his M.S. degree from Georgia Southern University where his research involved describing the amphibian and reptile communities of isolated, temporary wetlands in the southeast Atlantic Coastal Plain. Finally, at the University of Mississippi, Ben received a Ph.D. for his research on behavioral and physiological aspects of the biology of slider turtles. Ben resides in Maryville, Tennessee with his wife and two children. He will supervise collection of physical and biological data in the field and laboratory.
Dr. Peter Kershaw
University of Alberta
Dr. Kershaw is a biogeographer, disturbance ecologist and periglacial geomorphologist specializing in the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances (e.g. burrow pits, vehicle tracks, and oil spills) and fire on tundra and forest ecosystems in addition to permafrost landforms’ responses to climate change. He has worked and taught in Churchill for more than 15 years, although his main field sites have been in the western Arctic along the Mackenzie River valley and in the Mackenzie Mountains, where he has conducted research since the early 1970s. He has published papers on vegetation responses to anthropogenic and natural disturbances as well as environmental parameters (snowpack, temperature, permafrost) which largely determine the timing and type of recovery of these communities.