Permafrost-thaw-induced land-cover change in the Canadian subarctic: implications for water resources
Article first published online: 15 NOV 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume 25, Issue 1, pages 152–158, 1 January 2011
How to Cite
Quinton, W.L., Hayashi, M. and Chasmer, L.E. (2011), Permafrost-thaw-induced land-cover change in the Canadian subarctic: implications for water resources. Hydrol. Process., 25: 152–158. doi: 10.1002/hyp.7894
- Issue published online: 23 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 15 NOV 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 8 SEP 2010
- Manuscript Received: 17 MAY 2010
- permafrost thaw;
- land-cover change;
- northern water resources
Climate warming and human disturbance in north-western Canada have been accompanied by degradation of permafrost, which introduces considerable uncertainty to the future availability of northern freshwater resources. This study demonstrates the rate and spatial pattern of permafrost loss in a region that typifies the southern boundary of permafrost. Remote-sensing analysis of a 1·0 km2 area indicates that permafrost occupied 0·70 km2 in 1947 and decreased with time to 0·43 km2 by 2008. Ground-based measurements demonstrate the importance of horizontal heat flows in thawing discontinuous permafrost, and show that such thaw produces dramatic land-cover changes that can alter basin runoff production in this region. A major challenge to northern water resources management in the twenty-first century therefore lies in predicting stream flows dynamically in the context of widely occurring permafrost thaw. The need for appropriate water resource planning, mitigation, and adaptation strategies is explained. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.