Monitoring the freeze-up and ice cover progression of the Slave River

Apurba Das, Jay Sagin, Joost Van der Sanden, Earl Evans, Henry McKay, Karl Erich Lindenschmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


River ice is an important component to maintain traditional and cultural lifestyles for the peoples along the Slave River in the Northwest Territories. During the winter a stable ice cover provides a vital transportation link to hunting, trapping, and fishing areas along the river. However, little was known about the Slave River ice cover characteristics and behaviour during the freeze-up and ice cover progression period. RADARSAT-2 satellite and time-lapse camera imagery were used in this study to document the different types of ice and understand the mechanisms of ice cover formation progression along the river during the course of winter. Time-lapse images were analyzed to observe the frazil ice generation and patterns of stable ice cover formation of the Slave River near Fort Smith during freeze-up. RADARSAT-2 images acquired from the Slave River Delta areas captured ice cover flooding due to higher river flows in mid-winter. Field surveys along the river provided insights about the ice cover growth in various sections along the river. Air pockets and layers under the ice cover were also detected during the ice surveys. The variation of water flows during the winter has a great impact on the Slave River ice regime. Increases in discharge cause the ice cover to crack or dislodge from the river banks leading to water seeping onto the ice and flooding it, which has implications for muskrat and beaver populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-621
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Civil Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 6 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery
  • River ice freeze-up
  • Slave River
  • Time-lapse imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)


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