Despite recent advances in cold region hydrology, we still have a poor understanding of the influence of permafrost on groundwater and river flows. This knowledge gap leaves society vulnerable to unanticipated shifts in hydrological extremes, biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystem productivity under climatic change. We suggest closing this gap requires improved understanding of permafrost’s control on hydrological connectivity. Hydrological connectivity defines the ability of water to flow between shallow and deep groundwater and between groundwater and rivers and therefore controls the timing and magnitude of discharge in streams and rivers. The main objective of this research is to quantify how permafrost thaw affects hydrological connectivity across landscapes and results in changed timing of river discharges. We apply for funding to support a PhD candidate for four years who will further develop and apply recent advances by the project team combining river discharge recession analysis, mapping techniques and physically- based permafrost modelling to obtain large-scale insights into the effects of permafrost thaw on the flow of water in arctic and sub-arctic landscapes. By reducing the complexity of the landscape into easily defined units, we can model how ongoing and predicted future permafrost thaw influences water flow distributions and timing at an unprecedented spatial scale across northern Eurasia.

Abisko, Sweden
Abisko, Sweden