Modelling flow routing in permafrost landscapes with TWI : an evaluation against site-specific wetness measurements

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Abstract

In northern peatlands the thawing of permafrost increasing the active layer depth and changing the hydrology may lead to feedbacks in the climate system through changes in the biogeochemistry of carbon. We are examining this association on the Stordalen peatland complex in subarctic Sweden by analyzing a DEM derived from LiDAR-data and the calculated TWI. The DEM, with a spatial resolution of 1 m, and the TWI are evaluated against two seasons of water level measurements from 30 sites in the peatland. The TWI is calculated with a form-based flow routing algorithm which produces a natural flow routing pattern. In permafrost wetlands the topography is the major driver and is very important even though its magnitude is low. Site-specific wetness (SSW) measurements from the sites were compared with the different peatland types that occur in the study area, i.e. fen, internal fen and palsa. The results showed a strong correlation between the TWI and the palsa. The TWI was better at describing general patterns than site-specific hydrology. The evaluation of spatial patterns of TWI against SSW reveal the resolution required to develop the technique to be useful for climate change studies.

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  • Physical Geography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-713
JournalTransactions in GIS
Volume16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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5