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Wind-modulated groundwater discharge along a microtidal Arctic coastline

September 5, 2023

Groundwater discharge transports dissolved constituents to the ocean, affecting coastal carbon budgets and water quality. However, the magnitude and mechanisms of groundwater exchange along rapidly transitioning Arctic coastlines are largely unknown due to limited observations. Here, using first-of-its-kind coastal Arctic groundwater timeseries data, we evaluate the magnitude and drivers of groundwater discharge to Alaska's Beaufort Sea coast. Darcy flux calculations reveal temporally variable groundwater fluxes, ranging from −6.5 cm d−1 (recharge) to 14.1 cm d−1 (discharge), with fluctuations in groundwater discharge or aquifer recharge over diurnal and multiday timescales during the open-water season. The average flux during the monitoring period of 4.9 cm d−1 is in line with previous estimates, but the maximum discharge exceeds previous estimates by over an order-of-magnitude. While the diurnal fluctuations are small due to the microtidal conditions, multiday variability is large and drives sustained periods of aquifer recharge and groundwater discharge. Results show that wind-driven lagoon water level changes are the dominant mechanism of fluctuations in land–sea hydraulic head gradients and, in turn, groundwater discharge. Given the microtidal conditions, low topographic relief, and limited rainfall along the Beaufort Sea coast, we identify wind as an important forcing mechanism of coastal groundwater discharge and aquifer recharge with implications for nearshore biogeochemistry. This study provides insights into groundwater flux dynamics along this coastline over time and highlights an oft overlooked discharge and circulation mechanism with implications towards refining solute export estimates to coastal Arctic waters.

Publication Year 2023
Title Wind-modulated groundwater discharge along a microtidal Arctic coastline
DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/acf0d8
Authors Julia Guimond, Casu Demir, Barret L. Kurylyk, Michelle A. Walvoord, James W. McClelland, M. Bayani Cardenas
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Research Letters
Index ID 70248272
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division