Short Communication Over-Winter Channel Bed Temperature Regimes Generated by Contrasting Snow Accumulation in a High Arctic River
Bonnaventure, Philip P.
Lamoureux, Scott F.
Favaro, Elena A.
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We report experimental results of near-surface winter temperatures along and adjacent to the channel bed of a High Arctic river on Melville Island, Canada. Temperature loggers 5cm below the ground surface in areas where the terrain suggests varying snow accumulation patterns revealed that the maximum winter difference between air and near-surface temperatures ranged from 0 to +30°C during the winter of 2012–13, and that shallow near-surface freezing conditions were delayed for up to 21 days in some locations. Cooling to -10°C was delayed for up to 117 days. Modelled temperature at the top of permafrost indicates that permafrost at locations with thick snow can be up to 8°C warmer than those with thin snow. This thermal evidence for an ameliorated surface environment indicates the potential for substantial extended microbial and biogeochemical cycling during early winter. Rapid thaw of the bed during initiation of snowmelt in spring also indicates a high degree of hydrological connectivity. Therefore, snow-filled channels may contribute to biogeochemical and aquatic cycling in High Arctic rivers.