Connections between River Runoff and Limnological Conditions in Adjacent High Arctic Lakes: Cape Bounty, Melville Island, Nunavut

  • Kailey Amanda Stewart
  • Scott Fraser Lamoureux
Keywords: climate change, hydroclimate, snowmelt, runoff, limnology, water chemistry, aquatic productivity, freshwater, lake, ice cover

Abstract

Hydrological and hydrochemical monitoring of paired watersheds in the High Arctic was conducted in 2003–04 to investigate the influence of seasonal runoff on lake water chemistry and productivity. Despite similar limnological conditions overall between the two lakes, marked differences in aquatic productivity were attributed to watershed and basin morphology and the resultant influences on lake ice deterioration and growing season length. A switch from allochthonous to autochthonous sources of carbon late in the season reflected the simultaneous decline in river runoff and increase in aquatic productivity as the growing season progressed. However, low air temperatures and protracted snowmelt and ponding in the deeply incised channel of one river in 2003 led to greater solute accumulation in runoff that was discernable in hydrochemical profiles of that lake, even though runoff was greater in 2004. Notwithstanding, calculated nutrient fluxes were greater during the higher-flow year (2004), but mixing was impeded by underflow conditions in the lakes. Despite these differences, connections between river and lake water chemistry appeared weak even with marked seasonal changes in the volume of runoff. Our results highlight the interconnection between site-specific features and hydroclimatic factors like snowmelt and lake ice conditions in influencing limnological conditions and suggest that similar systems may respond differently to the same hydroclimatic conditions.

Published
2011-06-02