Hydroecological response of arctic rivers to climate change

Blaen, Phillip John (2013). Hydroecological response of arctic rivers to climate change. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Although the Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, links between hydrology and ecology in high-latitude northern river basins are not well understood. Interdisciplinary research over three summer melt seasons (2010 to 2012) in the Kongsfjorden area of northwest Svalbard identified process connections between conceptual water sources, physicochemical habitat, and ecological structure and functioning in river basins. Water source dynamics determined from hydrochemical and isotopic data indicated differences in meltwater and groundwater contributions to river flow which varied both spatially and temporally at seasonal and year-to-year timescales. Non-glacier-fed rivers were characterised by less variable flow regimes, warmer water temperature, lower suspended sediment concentration and more stable channel morphologies. Several physicochemical habitat variables, notably water temperature and channel stability, were related significantly to rates of nutrient uptake and macroinvertebrate community structure. These data suggest that a future shift towards groundwater-dominated flow regimes may increase biotic diversity and rates of nutrient cycling in some high-latitude rivers. Key research findings are synthesised in conceptual models and provide a framework to understand the hydroecological response of these Arctic river systems to climate change.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4247


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