Climate change is substantially affecting permafrost, hydrological conditions and landscape stability. These changes will influence watershed nutrient supply, vegetation, and cause feedbacks between the land and atmosphere. Collectively, these changes will alter physical and biogeochemical processes on land and in rivers and lakes with direct implications for water quality and aquatic ecosystems. However, critical processes that establish linkages between permafrost landscape changes and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem responses remain poorly understood.
This research program utilizes an integrated interdisciplinary approach to determine the primary processes within permafrost watersheds and identify their cumulative effects on vegetation and downstream rivers and lakes at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The field program closely coordinates research in order to model watershed-biogeochemistry in changing permafrost landscapes. This research represents ongoing and new elements of our program at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory (CBAWO), Melville Island, the most comprehensive hydrological research facility in Arctic Canada. Collectively, the projects provide an integrated platform for watershed research to contribute primary knowledge for managing Arctic watersheds and terrestrial ecosystems that are undergoing rapid changes.