Yellowknife, N.W.T.

LocationTypeTreaty CodeStatus
Yellowknife, N.W.T.Radionuclide StationRN16Certified
Yellowknife, N.W.T.Noble Gas SystemCertified

Page 1 RN16

Thumbnail profile: Yellowknife

Weather conditions can be arduous in Yellowknife’s semi-arid subarctic climate (Source: City of Yellowknife).

Yellowknife, capital of Canada's Northwest Territories since 1967, is located on the north shore of Great Slave Lake on the west side of Yellowknife Bay. The area was named after the local Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Gold was first reported in the area of Yellowknife Bay in the late 19th century and in the Dogrib language, the city is still known as Somba K'e ("where the money is").

Weather and Geography
Weather conditions and station access can be arduous in Yellowknife’s semi-arid subarctic climate, with temperatures ranging from -50ºC to +20ºC. Terrain is rugged, consisting mainly of large rock outcroppings separated by muskeg and lakes. Access to the station is challenging: in summer it is sometimes only possible by helicopter and in winter only with four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicles or snow-mobiles.

Station Location

RN16 is located on the periphery of Yellowknife.

The radionuclide station RN16 is located on the periphery of Yellowknife only a few hundred meters from the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) where the IMS primary seismic station PS09 has also been established. Both stations are on government land earmarked for scientific purposes by the GSC. Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau has been operating national radionuclide monitoring stations for many decades at over 25 sites around the country. The Yellowknife station has operated continuously since 1963.


Radionuclide Station Profile

RN16 is a manually run (as opposed to remote control run) station equipped with an air sampler with an average airflow rate of about 940m³/hr. The airflow rate is the minimum requirement; the more air that passes through the filter, the better the sensitivity of the station. Filters are needed to collect the radioactive particles.

Aerial view of station complex

As protection against the cold, harsh climate, the station was constructed to provide for indoor filter changes and for filters heated with infrared heaters.  Meteorological equipment is suspended outside on a pole at a height of 10 meters. It measures wind speed and direction, air temperature, pressure, humidity and precipitation. 

RN16’s operation software was provided by the CTBTO and, together with three staff members, controls the overall operation of the station.

All RN16 data are sent via an independent sub-network of the Canadian National Data Centre(NDC), then via the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI) of the National Data Centre to the CTBTO in Vienna.

Learn more about how the radionuclide technology works.