Humans and Hydrology
Collaborative Research: Humans and Hydrology at High Latitudes
Data for the dynamics, uses and values of freshwater in the Arctic are rapidly accumulating. However, it is currently unknown which regions of the pan-Arctic are most vulnerable to future changes. In order to begin to address the future change to freshwater availability on a pan-arctic scale, this team will use a system of arctic typologies to enable the integration of biophysical data with socio-cultural data produced regionally, such as demographics and water values. They will use mature data sets to study the strategic transformations of the high latitude water cycle.
Recent studies suggest that climate change will have a significant impact on arctic hydrology. Changes in the hydrologic cycle will affect both the presence of surface water and the thermal balance in soil. While preliminary evidence suggests a changing climate will have a significant impact on the hydrologic cycle in arctic regions, very little evidence is available to predict how the quantity of freshwater used by people is likely to change. Even less is understood about how hydrologic changes will affect the sustainability and culture of arctic residents.
The overall objective of this research is to use a wide array of existing data sets in a synthesis effort to describe the vital role of freshwater in the lives of people in the pan-Arctic, how it has changed in the recent past, and how it is likely to change in the future. The group will use a model to predict climate-induced changes in the hydrologic cycle and the resultant water stress on people at these high latitudes. Water-related stress will involve all of the key agents of change: climate change, land use/cover change, and water management by humans. They seek to address water stress in the pan-Arctic by testing hypotheses related to the 1) dominant types of hydrologic change at local, regional and continental scales, 2) the interplay between humans and hydrology over the pan-Arctic, and 3) future prognostication of the high latitude water cycle under changing climate and populations. An important component of this research is an attempt to bridge the gap between large, continental scale processes with those processes acting at local scales.