In permafrost regions the movement of water in riparian systems during winter has important implications for hydrology, land use, and infrastructure. Climate warming and its effects are likely modifying the thermal regime of these systems to promote winter water movement. The main goal of this research is to improve knowledge of the present hydrothermal regime of riparian systems in continuous permafrost in the western Canadian Arctic.
Surface and subsurface temperatures have been monitored since 2017 in channels and adjacent riparian margins with varying catchment size and morphology across treeline between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. The dynamics of channel aufeis (icings) that may reflect the timing and quantity of winter water movement are also being monitored. Preliminary results suggest that advective heat transport is important to the winter thermal regime of small riparian systems, and that highway crossings can alter channel temperatures enough to obstruct the drainage of small watersheds. Aufeis volumes are being measured and may indicate minimum winter runoff volumes from small watersheds.
This research has the potential to inform hydrological modeling, advance current understanding of winter flow sources and riparian geochemistry, and aid the avoidance and mitigation of hydrological issues associated with linear infrastructure in permafrost.