Using stable isotopes to assess surface water source dynamics and hydrological connectivity in a high-latitude wetland and permafrost influenced landscape

P Ala-Aho* (Corresponding Author), C Soulsby, O. S. Pokrovsky, S. N. Kirpotin, J. Karlsson, S. Serikova, S.N. Vorobyev, R. M. Manasypov, S Loiko, D Tetzlaff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change is expected to alter hydrological and biogeochemical processes in high-latitude inland waters. A critical question for understanding contemporary and future responses to environmental change is how the spatio-temporal dynamics of runoff generation processes will be affected. We sampled stable water isotopes in soils, lakes and rivers on an unprecedented spatio-temporal scale along a 1700 km transect over three years in the Western Siberia Lowlands. Our findings suggest that snowmelt mixes with, and displaces, large volumes of water stored in the organic soils and lakes to generate runoff during the thaw season. Furthermore, we saw a persistent hydrological connection between water bodies and the landscape across permafrost regions. Our findings help to bridge the understanding between small and large scale hydrological studies in high-latitude systems. These isotope data provide a means to conceptualise hydrological connectivity in permafrost and wetland influenced regions, which is needed for an improved understanding of future biogeochemical changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-293
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

The research has been supported by the NERC/JPI SIWA project (NE/M019896/1); grant issued in accordance with Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 220 dated 9 April 2010, under Agreement No. 14.B25.31.0001 with Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation dated 24 June 2013 (BIO-GEO-CLIM); grant RFBR No 17-05-00-348a; grant FCP “Kolmogorov” 14.587.21.0036, grant RNF No 15-17-1009, and grant RFBR No 17-55-16008.

Stable water isotope data are available in the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) data repository (title: “Stable water isotopes in Western Siberian inland waters”, permanent identifier: We would like to acknowledge the Arctic-GRO and IAEA for their publicly available databases providing supporting data for our analyses. Stream flow data at Nikolskoe was provided by Sergey Vorobiev. Liliya Kovaleva is acknowledged for the artwork in Figure 9. We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers and the handling editors for their constructive comments that improved the manuscript.


  • stable water isotopes
  • hydrological connectivity
  • runoff generation
  • snowmelt
  • low-relief


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