Fire in the Arctic: The interactive effects of landscape, hydrology, and permafrost change on aquatic ecosystem health

This project takes a land, to water, to landscape approach to understanding the effects of fire on aquatic ecosystem function. We aim to explore how specific fire-induced changes on land might alter the export (flux) of dissolved constituents (nutrients, toxins, carbon) from land to water, quantify the effect of changes in flux and concentration on aquatic food webs and the carbon balance of ecosystems, and use a tiered sampling approach to scale these results to the larger landscape. The monitoring and research is specifically designed to explore how variations in permafrost and geology mediate the response of aquatic ecosystems to fire in their surrounding landscapes. Below, we outline the specific objectives of our proposal, the rationale for carrying out the work in the manner we describe, progress to date on these questions by others and by ourselves, and a specific scientific and deliverables work plan.

The work will address three main objectives, with PI team members, project collaborators, and student trainees tasked to each. Specifically, we will explore:

1) The manner in which fire-induced changes to flowpaths and the composition of source areas affect the export of dissolved constituents (nutrients and carbon) from land to water.

2) The effect of fire on within-stream concentrations and fluxes of dissolved carbon, nutrients, and toxins, and how these changes affect aquatic organisms and aquatic ecosystem health.

3) How effects observed in water chemistry within small landscape units scale to larger landscapes across a patchy fire mosaic.

Over the short-term (first post-fire field season) we worked to capture the first post-fire runoff season, using collaborative agreements with local partners to ensure we can be on the ground during the spring thaw. This short-term objective is urgent because it is unknown how large the proportion of change in chemical flux associated with the 2014 burn will occur in the first year. Over the longer term (years 2 and 3), we are working to assess the recovery of water chemistry and aquatic ecosystem function, and use our results to upscale our results to the landscape scale

Metadata Access
Creator Tank, Suzanne; Dion, Nicole; Olefeldt, David; Quinton, Bill; Spence, Chris
Publisher Canadian Cryospheric Information Network
Contributor Polar Data Catalogue
Publication Year 2017
Rights Research programs, CCIN, or ArcticNet take no liability for the use or transmission of this data
OpenAccess true
Contact suzanne.tank(at); pdc(at)
Language English
Format Computer file
Discipline Biogeochemistry
Spatial Coverage (-121.000W, 60.200S, -110.600E, 64.300N)
Temporal Coverage Begin 2015-04-15T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2018-03-31T00:00:00Z