Arctic and subarctic environments are particularly sensitive and susceptible to climate change effects, where changes in groundwater systems may strongly impact downstream recipients, affecting water resources and quality. Quantifying degrading permafrost and associated carbon releases also plays a major role in understanding key climate feedback mechanisms.

Understanding the links between permafrost change and its influence on water flow and waterborne carbon transport is important for addressing and quantifying arctic terrestrial feedbacks to climate change. This since many permafrost regions contain large quantities of stored carbon in soil, located near the ground surface most susceptible to effects of warming. As the active layer degrades and deepens, increased gaseous release of carbon-dioxide and methane to the atmosphere is expected, which may potentially be an important positive feedback to climatic warming. The release of stored carbon is however affected by transport of subsurface water to surface water and ecosystems prior to release as gaseous CO2.

This research theme involves investigating climate-driven changes and feedback mechanisms related to the interactions of subsurface hydrogeological flow and transport, permafrost change and carbon releases to the atmosphere and water systems in cold regions, with specific application to northern arctic and subarctic sites along a climate gradient.  The specific objectives include to investigate and quantify process and system links of changing permafrost – hydrology-hydrogeology – waterborne carbon transport – gaseous carbon releases, by developing methodologies for assembling such process and system modelling capabilities. Available observations on relevant change mechanisms are used for model testing and model interpretation of data from several arctic and subarctic sites of on-going field investigations, including, but not limited to, sites located in northern Sweden, Greenland, and Svalbard.