Hydro-Ecology of Arctic Thawing (HEAT): Hydrology

Science Center Objects

The Arctic is warming at higher rates than much of the rest of the world. For Alaska, this results in changes in hydrology and ecosystems – permafrost is thawing, changing landscapes and releasing nutrients to soils and streams. 

The north fork of the Agashashok River

The north fork of the Agashashok River​​​​​​​.
(Credit: Josh Koch, USGS. Public domain.)

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The Arctic is warming at higher rates than much of the rest of the world. For Alaska, this results in changes in hydrology and ecosystems – permafrost is thawing, changing landscapes and releasing nutrients to soils and streams. Landscapes and streams are warming, affecting plant growth and fish and wildlife habitat. HEAT aims to understand the impacts of warming on the ecosystems at the Arctic-boreal transition, in the Noatak Preserve in northwestern Alaska. Here, catchments are near the physiographic limit of where trees can grow, and thus vegetation is dominated either by tundra or forest, depending on aspect and elevation. These different land cover types impact water storage, and the movement of water and nutrients from the catchments to the streams. By considering differences in temperatures, stream inflows, biogeochemical cycling, and fish presence, growth, and movement, this project aims to understand the link between physical changes in stream chemistry and fish ecology, with an eye towards how these links will change in the future.

This product is in conjuction with Hydro-ecology of Arctic Thawing (HEAT): Ecology

Agashashok River Basin illustration

Agashashok River watershed Installation Locations - 2016
Public domain.)