Permafrost warning system for northern highways 

Borehole with antennae

Pipes, antennae and flagging tape may not look very impressive, but what’s going on in this picture sure is! This is the beginning of an early warning system that will signal when the Alaska Highway is showing signs of deterioration due to permafrost thaw.  

Our permafrost research team is monitoring ground temperature in real time so that an alarm will signal if there is a sudden increase in temperature that could put the highway at risk. 

The permafrost researchers drilled a borehole 14 metres deep, and installed a thermistor string that measures the ground temperature. This data is stored in a logger that is housed in the waterproof black pipe. The antennae in this photo transmits the information from the logger to a nearby gateway that sends the data hourly on an internet server. Once downloaded on a computer, it is analyzed by the alarm system software.  

This permafrost alarm system hardware is one of a kind and will be operational later this year thanks to Dr. Fabrice CalmelsChair in Permafrost and Geoscience, and his team. This wouldn’t be possible without the partnership of Government of Yukon and the logger system developed by LogR Systems in collaboration with Laval University.