Critical Zone Hydrology Group



Global change impacts

Permafrost hydrology
Flood forecasting
Cloud forest hydrology
Tropical deforestation

Sustainable aquifer use



Valorisation and services

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Permafrost hydrology

Theme leader: Dr. Henk Kooi

Permafrost degradation in response to climate warming is expected to cause major changes in the pan-Arctic hydrological system over the next decades to millennia. Observed changes in river discharge and chemistry and changes in lake coverage have been taken as signs that the transition to a new hydro-climatic regime in northern high-latitudes has already started.
Subsurface hydrology evidently plays a central part in this process. At the same time, subsurface hydrology of permafrost settings is among the least studied and least understood hydrological systems in the world. We aim to advance understanding of permafrost groundwater hydrology and its links with surface hydrology. Research under this theme has started in recent years and is under development. Activities include/aim at model development, modelling studies, field investigation and use of hydrological databases.


Permafrost-groundwater modelling

In collaboration with the University of East Anglia, UK, numerical models are developed that allow simulation of coupled groundwater flow and heat transport and which include water-ice phase changes and its impact on permeability and water storage. The codes are used in explorative modelling studies to investigate permafrost development and groundwater system change in response to climate warming scenarios. Special attention is paid to (a) changes in groundwater discharge and baseflow generation, (b) lake and lake-talik development in thaw-lake settings.

Towards permafrost groundwater monitoring

In order to stimulate collection of dedicated field data and international collaboration on permafrost hydrology in Europe, The University Centre of Svalbard (H. Christiansen) and VUA (H. Kooi) organized an international workshop October 24-26, 2012, HYDRO-PERM workshop, Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Through this international workshop, which was funded by the Svalbard Science Forum (SSF), we aim to (1) define and establish joint future permafrost hydrology research in Svalbard and (2) explore the potential for intra-and sub-permafrost hydrological monitoring.

August 10-20, 2014 fieldwork was conducted on Svalbard (collaboration Bar Ilan University, Geol. Survey Israel, Unis Svalbard, and VU University Amsterdam) to study radium and other uranium series isotopes in active layer water and permafrost. The aim is to evaluate if these isotopes can provide a valuable tracer of permafrost hydrology in the face of climate warming impacts.

MSc projects:

Recent proposals



Last modified: Mon Dec 28 15:04:43 CET 2015