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Water balance modelling in the Fuglebekken catchment. South Spitsbergen.

The crucial indicator of environmental changes occurring in the Arctic, beside the glaciers, permafrost and biotic elements is undoubtedly the functioning of river catchments. Hydrological recognition in the Arctic region is far less developed than in lower latitudes (Sund 2008). The main goal of the project is to identify changes in the functionin

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Project date

Starts
2014-03-01

Ends
2017-10-30

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Project type

  • field work
  • modelling
  • long-term monitoring
  • data management

Discipline

  • atmosphere
  • cryosphere
  • other

Project Keywords

  • terrestrial hydrosphere / surface water / rivers/streams

Fieldwork information

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Summary

The crucial indicator of environmental changes occurring in the Arctic, beside the glaciers, permafrost and biotic elements is undoubtedly the functioning of river catchments. Hydrological recognition in the Arctic region is far less developed than in lower latitudes (Sund 2008). The main goal of the project is to identify changes in the functioning of non-glaciated Fuglebekken catchment, located in the vicinity of the Polish Polar Station Hornsund in Spitsbergen, under the influence of climate change. Understanding the determinants of the processes taking place under the influence of changing elements of the water cycle, requires identification of the spatial dynamics of the snow cover disappearance, rainfall and changes of runoff in the ablation season. Research hypothesis is that due to the observed climate change, elements of water balance change thus changing river regime, which consists of: water inflows, water levels, runoff and icings. The ablation period extends and occurence of active watercourses is also longer. It has a dramatic impact on the abiotic and biotic components of the environment. The increase in air temperature, a higher incidence of liquid precipitation, snow cover thickening and reduced snow cover duration, are reflected in the inflows, water lever magnitudes and runoff in the catchment (Førland et al. 2011, Luks 2013). The creation of models defining the catchment response to changes in weather and climate, makes it possible to assess the current state and to forecast changes. These studies have wide, interdisciplinary applications, useful in sciences like: hydrology, hydrogeology, geomorphology, ecology of plants and animals. Better recognition of the river regime dynamics and the water balance of the catchment in polar region, requires detailed research, using modern technologies, methods and measurement tools. Of particular interest next to catchment runoff is variability of the individual elements of the water cycle. The project consists of two groups of methods: field work and statistical analysis and modeling based on historical data and that collected in the field site. Systematically repeated field measurements involve conducted hydrological monitoring, measurements of runoff and water levels, spatial accumulation and ablation of snow cover. The existing monitoring at the meteorological site of Polish Polar Station Hornsund (WMO 01003), provides the necessary information on the functioning of the catchment. Determining the retention of water in the snow cover, determining the flow curve and managing a long-term series of meteorological data, provide information to water balance model of catchment and lets identifying the mechanisms responsible for the interannual variabilities. This will determine the long-term trends in river regime. Accurate measurement of water runoff from the catchment, which will be carried out using modern measuring devices that allow specifying the velocity and volume of water flow even at low states, in short time intervals. It is very important for a large diurnal variation of flow in polar conditions. In addition, measurements will be carried out, and then modeling the disappearance of snow cover in late spring (spring 2014 and spring 2015). To do this, the equipment will be installed in the field site. In order to determine the water balance and river regime few models are planned to be used, including rainfall-runoff models, HBV, topmodel, with varying degrees of complexity. The analysis and calculation of trends will be done in statistical and GIS computer programs, with provided data sources, such as: weather data from Hornsund station, archival data of measurements of the water balance of the catchment Fuglebekken 1979/1980 (Pulina et al. 1984) and 1988-1992 (Jania, Pulina 1994), as well as digital terrain models (DEM), rectified aerial photographs and digitized maps.

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