Permafrost Hydrology: Linkages and Feedbacks



In the cold regions, hydrological regime is closely related with permafrost conditions, such as permafrost extent and thermal characteristics. Ice-rich permafrost has a very low hydraulic conductivity and commonly acts as a barrier to deeper groundwater recharge or as a confining layer to deeper aquifers. In regions underlain by permafrost, the active layer is the upper layer of the soil near the surface that undergoes thawing in the summer and freezing in the fall. The thawing starts from the surface in the spring, and the active layer reaches its maximum in late summer. The lower boundary of this layer is the top of the permafrost layer. The active layer is considered to produce base flow (or low flow) during the ice-free season. In this chapter, we discuss relationship between permafrost coverage and streamflow regime, detection of permafrost thawing trends from long-term streamflow data, determination of permafrost groundwater age, and water balance of northern permafrost basins.


Permafrost coverage Base flow (low flow) Basin (terrestrial) water storage Permafrost thawing trends Groundwater age Water balance 



Parts of this chapter (Sects. 16.3 and 16.4) were based on researches supported by Research Project No. C-07 of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) entitled “Global Warming and the Human–Nature Dimension in Siberia: Social Adaptation to the Changes of the Terrestrial Ecosystem, with an Emphasis on Water Environments” (Principal Investigator: Tetsuya Hiyama). The editing work was partly supported by a grant from the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability (ArCS) Project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan. We thank Prof. W. Brutsaert for his valuable comments.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Space-Earth Environmental ResearchNagoya UniversityNagoya AichiJapan
  2. 2.Environment and Climate Change Canada, Watershed Hydrology and Ecology DivisionVictoria, British ColumbiaCanada
  3. 3.Water and Environment Research CenterUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

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