Using stable isotopes to assess surface water source dynamics and hydrological connectivity in a high-latitude wetland and permafrost influenced landscape

P Ala-Aho (Corresponding Author), C Soulsby, O. S. Pokrovsky, S. N. Kirpotin, J. Karlsson, S. Serikova, S.N. Vorobyev, R. M. Manasypov, S Loiko, D Tetzlaff

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Climate change is expected to alter hydrological and biogeochemical processes in high-latitude inland waters. A critical question for understanding contemporary and future responses to environmental change is how the spatio-temporal dynamics of runoff generation processes will be affected. We sampled stable water isotopes in soils, lakes and rivers on an unprecedented spatio-temporal scale along a 1700 km transect over three years in the Western Siberia Lowlands. Our findings suggest that snowmelt mixes with, and displaces, large volumes of water stored in the organic soils and lakes to generate runoff during the thaw season. Furthermore, we saw a persistent hydrological connection between water bodies and the landscape across permafrost regions. Our findings help to bridge the understanding between small and large scale hydrological studies in high-latitude systems. These isotope data provide a means to conceptualise hydrological connectivity in permafrost and wetland influenced regions, which is needed for an improved understanding of future biogeochemical changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-293
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018



  • stable water isotopes
  • hydrological connectivity
  • runoff generation
  • snowmelt
  • low-relief

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