Snow-melt driven erosion and sediment pathways in Polar regions

Snow and ice melt in Polar regions are associated with dramatic changes in the hydrological regime and significantly enhance erosional processes. Such changes are the most important driver of the hydrological cycle of Polar rivers and dominate the fluxes of dissolved and particulate substances from land to the Arctic Ocean. This session aims to present studies which are devoted to mass transport phenomena in Polar regions that are associated with snow and ice melt such as continental erosion, sediment transport and water quality issues within the freshet period. The session will also include organic matter delivery to rivers due to permafrost thaw.

Convener: Sergey Chalov | Co-Convener: Vsevolod Moreydo
| Tue, 31 May, 16:30–18:00|Room Rondelet 2
| Attendance Tue, 31 May, 15:00–16:30|Poster area

Orals: Tue, 31 May | Room Rondelet 2

Lilian Niacsu, Ion Ionita, and Jean Poesen

Gully erosion has been recognized as an important environmental threat in the Moldavian Plateau of Eastern Romania. The main objective of this study was to better understand gully development by providing quantitative information from long-term field measurements in small catchments over a 60 year period (1961-2020). Several methods were used to accurately measure and estimate gully growth.

Intense gully erosion has sculptured remarkable landforms around the town of Barlad. The permanent gully systems consist of two main gully types, discontinuous and large continuous gullies in valley bottoms. The discontinuous gullies are associated with small catchments (usually <100 ha in area) and ephemeral peak runoff discharges are usually ≤2 m3 s-1.

Fourteen representative continuous gullies were selected, most of them having catchment areas <500 ha. Linear gully head retreat and areal gully growth rates were quantified for six decades. The results obtained indicate that gully erosion rates have decreased since 1960s (i.e. 19.5 m yr-1 linear gully head retreat) to 3.2 m yr-1 during last decade.

Gully growth is believed to be mainly triggered by severe rainstorms and resultant runoff events. However, the impact of late winter (especially thawing and snowmelt runoff) on gully development is often overlooked.  Mean annual air temperature at Barlad (Romania) is 10.2oC and means annual precipitation is 508 mm (1961-2020), of which 35% falls during the cold season (October-March). Multiple annual field measurements on the growth of six continuous gullies between 1981-2000 indicate that half of the mean gully growth occurred in the cold season (in late winter, mainly in March).Based on data collected from different locations in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, it is possible to postulate that the relative contribution of the cold season to the gully development is highly variable and is closely related to climatic conditions. Thus, the contribution is very small in north-east China, ~25% in western Iowa (USA), ~50% in the Barlad Plateau (eastern Romania) and ~67% in the Middle Volga region (Russian Federation).

How to cite: Niacsu, L., Ionita, I., and Poesen, J.: Impact of changing climate on thawing and snowmelt-driven gully erosion in Eastern Romania, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-62, 2022.

Goro Mouri and Sergey Chalov

We introduce the result of field observation associated with debris-covered snow-covered gorge in the Japanese Alps incorporating the effects of high mountain climate and extreme environment. The Japanese Alps strata that form the slopes and piedmonts of the extreme mountainous environments are highly erodible, which determines the specific features on the shrinkage of snow-covered gorges. In this study, we report the characteristics of debris-covered snowy gorges during the beginning of the snowmelt period in the extreme mountainous environment region of the Japanese Alps. We measured the temperature profiles and daily variations in typical nutrient parameters at debris-covered gorge and bare-ice glacier in the Kekachi valley in the northern Japan Alps of north-central region in Japan, to assess the characteristics association with the effect of debris-covered snowy gorge. The Kekachi valley is a typical snowy gorge region in Japan and also in the world that is located on the northern Japan Alps and lies over the Holocene sediment of the median tectonic line on Honshu Island, Japan. The debris covered snowy gorge remains almost throughout the year. This study indicated that the effect of debris coverage on the shrinkage of snow-covered gorges results in how the gorges respond to high mountain climate and environment of the Japanese Alps. We also compared debris-covered snowy area and bare ice area. Our results indicated that the highest ground surface temperature within 10 cm varied from 8 °C to 15 °C, having diurnal cycle for the crucial baseline factor associated with the existence of debris-covered snow-covered gores. Although, the growing meltwater discharge and surface lowering indicates that such snowy gorges are currently shrinking, their fronts remain remarkably stable, as also been observed in other regions.

How to cite: Mouri, G. and Chalov, S.: Characteristics of debris-covered snow-covered gorge during the snowmelt period in the Northern Japan Alps, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-619, 2022.

Impacts of climate change and land cover dynamics on runoff and sediment yield of the Mayma river basin (Ob River headwaters)
Dmitry Pershin, Vsevolod Moreydo, and Lilia Lubenets
loadflux: an R toolbox to study intra-event suspended sediment dynamics in small rivers
Anatoly Tsyplenkov and Sergey Chalov
Vasilii Efimov, Liudmila Efimova, and Sergey Chalov

An assessment of water and chemical flow of largest rivers of Russian Arctic is becoming an increasingly important problem. The distribution of trace metal flow there, although closely related to river runoff, is still not well understood, due to remote location of river outlets, complexity of sampling and analysis techniques, as well as the absence of a regular monitoring network. That is why the quantitative assessment of the fluxes of dissolved, suspended and, especially, bed load of trace metals, in the Ob, Yenisei, Lena and Kolyma rivers is a challenging field of hydrology.

The project is focused on semi-empirical and modeling study of flows, concentrations, modes and loads of trace metals in different stages of high and low water periods. In-situ measurements were made on regular basis and the number of samples taken exceeds 600. For each sample 68 microelements were analyzed, as well as such hydrochemical components as nutrients and organic carbon content, both in dissolved and particulate (suspended and bed loads) forms. These samples can determine annual and seasonal distribution of 70% of the chemical elements and substances carried by large rivers of the Russian Arctic into the Arctic Ocean.

The use of a new sampling technique for several verticals and horizons in the section allows to assess the flow of trace elements with increased accuracy. It also helps to detect micro-scale trace metal flow changes associated with local factors, such as coastal erosion, permafrost thawing, tributary inflow, or human activity. This data is necessary to consider the effect of the trace metal distribution along the river deltas and Arctic seas.

The reported study was funded by RFBR according to the research project 05-18-60219 and by RSF according to the research project no. 21-17-00181 for the Lena River.

How to cite: Efimov, V., Efimova, L., and Chalov, S.: Trace metal fluxes in largest Siberian rivers, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-683, 2022.

Filip Pawlak, Krystyna Koziol, Marek Ruman, and Zaneta Polkowska

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as organochlorine pesticides or polychlorinated biphenyls, are continuously delivered into the Arctic terrestrial environment, i.a. through snowfall (e.g., Cabrerizo et al., 2019; Hermanson et al., 2020). This happens despite the bans and restrictions on the use of these bioaccumulative substances (Stockholm Convention, 2008) and may lead to a secondary accumulation of contaminants in some glaciers in the Arctic continuing in the future (Pawlak et al., 2021). Upon melt, POPs are released with particulate matter and delivered to downstream ecosystems. However, the current deposition fluxes of POPs on glaciers are only sparsely recognized, which leads to uncertainties in these contaminants' snowmelt fluxes. In this study, we present a combination of spatially distributed sampling of fresh snowfall with total snow cover profiles upon Hans glacier (Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic) and the existing data on the snow cover (courtesy Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences) to estimate such fluxes for a seasonal snow cover of a tidewater glacier. Uncertainties related to the snow cover water equivalent estimations and the spatial variation in POPs concentrations are estimated and presented as obstacles to robustness of such studies. As a result, we provide data for future field measurement design which would decrease uncertainties in such estimations.


Cabrerizo, A., Muir, D.C.G., Teixeira, C., Lamoureux, S.F., Lafreniere, M.J., 2019. Snow Deposition and Melting as Drivers of Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Organochlorine Pesticides in Arctic Rivers, Lakes, and Ocean. Environ. Sci. Technol. 53, 14377–14386. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05150

Hermanson, M.H., Isaksson, E., Hann, R., Teixeira, C., Muir, D.C.G., 2020. Atmospheric Deposition of Organochlorine Pesticides and Industrial Compounds to Seasonal Surface Snow at Four Glacier Sites on Svalbard, 2013–2014. Environ. Sci. Technol. 54, 9265–9273. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c01537

Pawlak, F., Koziol, K., Polkowska, Z., 2021. Chemical hazard in glacial melt? The glacial system as a secondary source of POPs (in the Northern Hemisphere). A systematic review. Sci. Total Environ. 778, 145244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145244

Stockholm Convention, 2008. Status of ratifications of the Stockholm Convention [WWW Document]. Secr. Stock. Conv. Clear. House. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electacta.2005.05.025

This research was funded by a National Science Centre of Poland grant no. NCN 2017/26/D/ST10/00630 (Sea-snow POPs project).

How to cite: Pawlak, F., Koziol, K., Ruman, M., and Polkowska, Z.: Organochlorine pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl loads in the snow cover of Hans glacier, Svalbard, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-717, 2022.

Posters: Tue, 31 May, 15:00–16:30 | Poster area

North to South Variations in the Suspended Sediment Transport Budget Within Large Siberian River Deltas Revealed by Remote Sensing Data
Kristina Prokopeva, Sergey Chalov, and Michał Habel
A multi-model approach to basin erosion quantification under future climate change in the Russian Arctic
Vsevolod Moreido, Sergey Chalov, Yury Motovilov, and Vadim Grigoriev
Kirill Maltsev

The assessment of sediment runoff from the territory of two key catchments located in the Lena River basin was carried out within the framework of this study. The Lena River basin is located within the Russian Federation and belongs to the Arctic catchment. The study sites are located within very different natural conditions. The first section of the Chara river is located within the mountainous part of the catchment with coordinates of the section are 57° n.l, 118° e.l. The second site is located in the area of ​​Yakutsk, in the flat part of the Lena river basin with coordinates of the site are 62° n.l., 131° e.l.

The assessment of sediment yield from the catchment area was performed using the WaTEM / Sedem. The following values ​​of sediment runoff entering the catchment of the Chara and rivers in the area of ​​Yakutsk were obtained. The catchment area of ​​the Chara River is characterized by an average long-term modulus of sediment equal to 149 t / km2 per year (1961-1984), 172 t / km2 per year (1985-2020). The obtained values ​​do not agree with the data on sediment runoff measured in the river at the hydrographic station in the village of Chara. The sediment runoff measured in the river decreased from 28 to 15 t / km2 per year (Magritsky, Banshchikov, 2021). Comparison of data from modeling sediment runoff from the catchment area and measured data at Tabaga station in the area of Yakutsk indicates a greater consistency of the results. The modeling data give an estimate of 3.5 t / km2 per year, and the measurement data - 5 t / km2 1980-x (1961 - 1984) and 9 t / km2 per year (1956-2019).

 Funding: The work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project № 21-17-00181)

How to cite: Maltsev, K.: Estimation of the  sediment yield from the drainage basin of the Lena River, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-333, 2022.

Danuta Szumińska, Krystyna Kozioł, Małgorzata Szopińska, Sergiej R. Chalov, Vasilii A. Efimov, Marcin Frankowski, and Żaneta Polkowska

Permafrost environment will undergo significant changes during the 21st century related to the forecasted climate warming, therefore, we may expect that rising temperatures will cause enhanced re-mobilization of deposited compounds from sinks in soils and permafrost. By analysing persistent organic pollutants (POPs) concentrations in surface waters we attempt to answer the question if permafrost is a secondary source of POPs stored in it. One of the most common organic pollutant groups worldwide, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), occurred also in Russian periglacial soils, sediments and water, and their further research is of interest due to them causing adverse effects in animal health. PAHs concentrations range from several to several thousand ng·g–1, reflecting a spatial variability related to supply from both anthropogenic and natural sources (e.g., Abakumov et al., 2015; Elmquist  et al., 2007; Gabov et al., 2019).

Preliminary research on the possibile release of POPs into water has been conducted in July 2021 near the North-East Science Station (the lower Kolyma basin) (within the scope of PollAct project). Water samples (28 pcs) were collected from the Kolyma river, its tributaries and thermokarst lakes. The results of laboratory analysis (PAHs, PCBs, metals) are tested to find potential sources of contaminants (natural vs anthropogenic), and verify the possibility of their remobilisation from permafrost during thaw season. The study will be continued in 2022-2025 through the PER2Water project.


This research was funded by INTERACT, H2020-EU., grant number 730938; project: PollAct. This research was funded also in part by National Science Centre, Poland, grant number 2021/41/B/ST10/02947, PER2Water project.


Abakumov E.V., Tomashunas V.M., Lodygin E.D., Gabov D.N., Sokolov V.T., Krylenkov V.A., Kirtsideli I.Yu., 2015. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in insular and coastal soils of the Russian Arctic. Eurasian Soil Sc. 48, 1300–1305.

Elmquist M., Zencak Z.,Gustafsson Ö., 2007. A 700 Year Sediment Record of Black Carbon and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons near the EMEP Air Monitoring Station in Aspvreten, Sweden. Environ. Sci. Technol. 41(20), 6926–6932.

Gabov D.N., Yakovleva Y.V., Vasilevich R.S., Kuznetsov O.L., Beznosikov V.A., 2019. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Peat Mounds of the Permafrost Zone. Eurasian Soil Sc. 52(9), 1038–1050.

How to cite: Szumińska, D., Kozioł, K., Szopińska, M., Chalov, S. R., Efimov, V. A., Frankowski, M., and Polkowska, Ż.: Persistent organic pollutants remobilisation from permafrost? A preliminary study in the Kolyma basin (Russian Arctic), IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-712, 2022.