Project Dashboard

Arctic driftwood as a proxy record of environmental change (149321)
Proposal Status: Conformity Determination Issued
Project Overview
Type of application: New
Proponent name: Matthew Dyas
Company: Explorer Pictures
Start Date: 2020-08-11
End Date: 2020-09-01
Operation Type: Annual
Project Description:
Objectives: Arctic driftwood originating from large river systems in North America and Eurasia is carried by currents across the northern oceans and deposited on Arctic coastlines free of sea ice. The spatial and temporal transport and deposition history, and the tree-ring characteristics of the driftwood, represent an exceptional proxy record for environmental change over multiple spatio-temporal scales. The objectives of the proposed research are to collect and analyse driftwood from Arctic coastlines to reconstruct ocean current dynamics, changes in sea-ice extent and relative sea level over the last centuries to millennia. In addition, we expect to gain information on past climate during the life cycle of the tree itself through the analysis of growth-ring characteristics. The majority of driftwood samples collected to date are from East Greenland, Svalbard and northwest Iceland. Collecting and analysing driftwood from Arctic coastlines along the Northwest Passage will contribute substantially to our understanding of the ocean transport and temperature history of the area. The MV Balto, a small ship sleeping 12 passengers, will be used as the research vessel. We have planned a journey through the Northwest Passage in 2020 which would pass by many remote beaches to allow for opportunities to come across driftwood. This project will build on and expand the geographical range of a successful 2018 pilot study carried out around Baffin Island and West Greenland approved by the NPC and NRI. The pilot study was conducted by the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) and the new Tree-Ring Unit (TRU); both are part of the Department of Geography at Cambridge University. We are collaborating with both groups, working directly with Professor Ulf Büntgen, founder of TRU, and Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the SPRI. The collection of samples will be filmed as part of an observational documentary following a few people on board the Balto. Filming is being organised in consultation with local communities, Nunavut Film Development Corporation and Arctic fixer David Reid. The logistics of the ship are being organised with Milos Simovic who has previously led research voyages. Methods: The Balto is scheduled to sail to the Northwest Passage for three weeks between 11 August to 01 September. To allow for changing weather conditions, we need some flexibility with our route. The Balto intends to travel from Greenland to Pond Inlet then around Somerset Island via Bellot Strait to Resolute. We will then travel around Devon Island to Grise Fiord and, conditions permitting, then possibly further north to Tanquary Fiord or up the east or west coast of Ellesmere Island. In case ice conditions prevent the Balto reaching Grise Fiord, we may need to amend our plans and travel further south to around Gjoa Haven. Passenger shore excursions by 'Zodiac' will be built into the itinerary of the Balto. During these excursions, we hope to land on uninhabited beaches at and adjacent to the locations shown on the Project Map. Flexibility is needed for sampling locations as the whereabouts of the driftwood shifts, however, we will avoid any protected areas or national parks. We estimate there will be around ten shore excursions however the number of these landing sites achieved is dependent upon weather and sea-ice conditions. The ship has capacity for fuel, water and provisions to ensure we are self-sufficient throughout the length of the journey and not reliant on local communities. At each location, we intend to collect driftwood samples, if present, by removing a section of wood through the centre of-exposed-logs. The removal of driftwood wedges, and in some cases slices, would be by manual saw and/or chainsaw maintained on board the Balto. Any residual cuttings: or driftwood material would be removed and the site returned to its natural state. It is our intent to use hand saws in as many cases as possible, reserving the chain saw only where necessary and where it would have no impact on wildlife. The driftwood samples would be taken back to the ship via 'Zodiac' and then to the Tree-Ring Unit. There the samples will be analysed as to age, provenance, transport-history and climate fluctuations using state of the art technology including radiocarbon dating, tree-ring counting, species determination, DNA mapping of selected samples and stable isotope tracing. Outcome: The intention is to increase and expand on the data available to the new tree-ring laboratory and the SPRI at Cambridge University. The samples will form the basis of an archive essential for answering urgent questions across the fields of archaeology, biology, climatology, ecology, and oceanography at a time when more data on climate change is urgently needed.
Persons: 2
Days: 10
Project Map
List of all project geometries:
ID Geometry Location Name
6173 point Beaches around Craig Harbour
6174 point Beaches around Dundas Harbour
6178 point Beaches around Pond Inlet (avoiding Sirmilik National Park)
6179 point Beaches to east of Resolute Bay
6180 point Beaches south of Devon Island
6181 point Beaches around Gjoa Haven
6182 point Beaches around Somerset Island
6185 point Beaches north of Jones Sound
6187 point Beaches around the east coast of Ellesmere Island
Planning Regions:
Affected Areas and Land Types
Settlement Area
North Baffin Planning Region
Project Land Use and Authorizations
Project Land Use
Scientific Research
Scientific Research
Licensing Agencies
NRI: Scientific Research Licence
Other Licensing Requirements
No data found.
Material Use
Type Quantity Size Use
Hand saw 2-3 up to 60 cm in length Driftwood samples will be cut with hand saws wherever possible to minimize disturbance to the environment
Chainsaw 1 ca. 20 inch bar A chainsaw will be taken for cutting large driftwood sections that cannot be cut with a hand saw. We are hoping to use an electric chainsaw. Two members of the team will be trained in how to properly use a chainsaw. Any chainsaw activity will be risk assessed along with a full production risk assessment with a specialist company.
Fuel Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
Gasoline 1 1 Liters The chainsaw will use a mix of 2 cycle oil and gasoline. We are hoping to use an electric chainsaw however we are including fuel information in case we have to use one that instead uses gasoline.
Hazardous Material and Chemical Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
No records found.
Water Consumption
Daily Amount (m3) Retrieval Method Retrieval Location
Waste and Impacts
Environmental Impacts
The maybe residual cuttings from sawing the driftwood sections. These will be collected and the site restored to its natural state.
Waste Management
Waste Type Quantity Generated Treatement Method Disposal Method
Sewage (human waste) N/A Our ship has a sanitary plant as per the Polar Code treatment plant IMO (USCG approved). All waste will be contained on the ship. Sewage from the ship will be properly treated.
Category: Application form attachment - Project description
Recieved: 2020-03-11
Originator: Matthew Dyas
Public Registry ID: 17539
Document Size: 39.61 Kb
Category: Application form attachment - Project description
Recieved: 2020-03-11
Originator: Matthew Dyas
Public Registry ID: 17540
Document Size: 45.52 Kb
Category: Application related document - Conformity Determination Letter
Recieved: 2020-03-27
Originator: Goump Djalogue
Public Registry ID: 17621
Document Size: 271.11 Kb
2020-03-24 16:57:30, from: Goump Djalogue
 Hi , As discussed, please revised your proposal to reflect your change of travel arrangements. Thanks, Goump


Environmental Protection:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to prevent any new occurrences of pollution, garbage and contamination at the site of the development.

Removal of Fuel Drums:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to remove all drums safely from the site and dispose of the drums in a safe manner.

New Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.1 and Appendix H, s1: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its natural condition to the greatest extent possible.

Old Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.2: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its original condition to the greatest extent possible, including any work required due to the applicant's action prior to this application.

Low-Level Air Flights:
Appendix H, s3: Will the applicant avoid all low-level flights?

Caribou Protection Measures:
s3.3.7 and Appendix D: Will the applicant comply with the Caribou Protection Measures outlined in section 2.4.6 and in Appendix D?

Caribou Water Crossings:
s3.3.7 and map: Will the applicant avoid, between may 15 and September 1, to construct any camp, cache any fuel or conduct any blasting within 10 km of any Designated Caribou Water Crossing identified

Polar Bear Denning Areas and Walrus Haul-outs:
s3.3.8: Will the applicant keep its activities away from any polar bear denning area or walrus haul-out?

Reporting of Archaeological Sites:
s3.11.3 and Appendix H, s2 and s8: Will the applicant immediately report the discovery of all suspected archaeological sites to the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth (GN)?

Scientific Research:
s3.9.3: Does the project proposal involve scientific research?
If yes, will the applicant integrate all available and relevant local and traditional knowledge when conducting its research?

Consultation with Nunavut Research Institute:
s3.9.5: Has the applicant consulted with the Nunavut Research Institute about research topics that would benefit or interest local residents?
ii. If no, explain why.
We are applying to NPC first about the project in accordance with Nunavut Research Institute guidelines. The NRI approved a pilot study of the same project in 2018 entitled Arctic driftwood as a proxy record of environmental change: a pilot study
Local Services and Local Employment:
s3.9.4: Will the applicant rely on local services and employment where possible?
i. Describe the services retained and the people to be employed.
We are sending out a letter via our Arctic guide David Reid to local communities in March for Pond Inlet, Grise Fiord, Gjoa Haven and Resolute to see if they would be happy for our team to visit them. If so, we would be delighted to consult with them for their local knowledge and hopefully utilise local services. We have not finalised our plans yet and we will consider hiring someone from the local community as a guide or wildlife spotter

Communication on Scientific Research:
s3.2.8: The applicant will, at minimum, translate a summary of its work into Inuktitut and communicate with communities using language that is clear and non-technical. The results of all scientific re