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Water balance studies in two catchments on Spitsbergen, Svalbard

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Hydrological studies at Svalbard have been concentrated in two catchments in particular, the Bayelva catchment near Ny Ålesund and De Geerdalen near Longyearbyen. Hydrological processes and water balance in these and some other catchments were monitored and studied in several projects during the 1990s and a summary of the main results were presented in a series of papers in the journal Polar Research in 2003. This paper contains a summary of some of these results, supplemented with a description of the catchments. The runoff in Svalbard is dominated by snowmelt and glacial melt. The runoff is usually much higher than observed precipitation, since the precipitation gauges only can catch around 50% of the precipitation due to strong winds, low temperatures, and snow precipitation. Evaporation is low, less than 100 mm year-1 from glacier-free areas, and probably close to zero from glaciers.
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Northern Research Basins Water Balance (Proceedings of a workshop held at Victoria, Canada, March 2004).
IAHS Publ. 290, 2004
1
Water balance studies in two catchments on
Spitsbergen, Svalbard
ÅNUND KILLINGTVEIT
Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering,
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway
aanund.killingtveit@ntnu.no
Abstract Hydrological studies at Svalbard have been concentrated in two
catchments in particular, the Bayelva catchment near Ny Ålesund and De
Geerdalen near Longyearbyen. Hydrological processes and water balance in
these and some other catchments were monitored and studied in several
projects during the 1990s and a summary of the main results were presented in
a series of papers in the journal Polar Research in 2003. This paper contains a
summary of some of these results, supplemented with a description of the
catchments. The runoff in Svalbard is dominated by snowmelt and glacial
melt. The runoff is usually much higher than observed precipitation, since the
precipitation gauges only can catch around 50% of the precipitation due to
strong winds, low temperatures, and snow precipitation. Evaporation is low,
less than 100 mm year-1 from glacier-free areas, and probably close to zero
from glaciers.
Key words arctic hydrology; precipitation correction; Spitsbergen; Svalbard; water balance
BACKGROUND
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that the North Atlantic
region is one of the most sensitive on Earth with respect to climate change (IPCC,
2001). There is reason, therefore, to study climate dynamics and climate change and
their effects on Arctic ecosystems. The hydrological processes constitute an important
link between climate and the effect on ecosystems, and therefore hydrological studies
have become increasingly important in studies of climate change, particularly in the
Arctic. In Norway, a research programme on Arctic Hydrology was initiated around
1990, with its main focus on Svalbard and Spitzbergen (the largest island in Svalbard)
specifically.
In 2001, about 10 years after the start of the Arctic Hydrology Programme, the
Norwegian Hydrological Council arranged a workshop in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in
order to discuss and summarize the status of hydrological research in Svalbard. Here it
was decided to write a series of overview papers assembling the state-of-the-art of
hydrological knowledge in Svalbard, as a contribution to the Arctic Climate Impact
Assessment (ACIA). A total of six papers, covering climate, snow, glaciers, water
balance, sediment transport and permafrost, were published in the journal Polar
Research in 2003. This paper contains a summary of some of the most important
findings in these six papers (Bogen & Bønsnes, 2003; Førland et al., 2003; Hagen
et al., 2003; Humlum et al., 2003; Killingtveit et al., 2003; Winther et al., 2003). In
addition some new data for runoff and climate have been included here, in order to
present an updated report on hydrological data and water balance calculations for two
Ånund Killingtveit
2
catchments in Svalbard. These two, Bayelva and De Geerdalen, are the two catchments
with the longest records and most complete of hydrological observations in Svalbard.
The Bayelva catchment is located close to the western coast; De Geerdalen is more
inland, in the central part of Spitsbergen. All water balance calculations are done for
hydrological years. In Svalbard the hydrological year starts in September and goes to
August of the next year. By starting with 1 September, the difference in the storage in
the basin from year to year is minimized, since snowmelt from the previous winter is
finished, and new snow has not yet started to accumulate.
ABOUT SVALBARD
The Svalbard archipelago is a group of islands located north of Norway and east of
Greenland, between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian
Sea, between 76° and 81°N. Spitsbergen is the name of the largest island in Svalbard.
The Svalbard archipelago covers an area of 63 000 km2, of which about 60% or
36 600 km2 is covered by glaciers (Hagen et al., 2003). The rest, about 25 000 km2,
has seasonal snow cover, all of it with permafrost. In Svalbard, permafrost depth is
typically from 100 m in major valley bottoms and up to 400500 m in the high
mountains (Humlum et al., 2003).
Today, there are four main settlements on Spitsbergen (Fig. 1): Ny Ålesund,
Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and Sveagreuva. All these settlements were founded as
coal mining towns, but today only Sveagruva and Barentsburg are solely dependent on
the mining industry. Ny-Ålesund has developed into a large-scale research facility and
Fig. 1 Svalbard with location of research catchments Bayelva and De Geerdalen.
Water balance studies in two catchments on Spitsbergen, Svalbard
3
has between 40 and 100 inhabitants, depending on the season. The Bayelva catchment
is located close to Ny Ålesund, and the operation of gauging stations is based on
infrastructure in Ny Ålesund. With a population of more than 1700, Longyearbyen
depends on tourism, research and education, in addition to mining. The De Geerdalen
catchment is located approximately 20 km from Longyearbyen, and fieldwork and
operation of gauging stations can be based on support from Longyearbyen. Ny-
Ålesund, Longyearbyen, and Sveagruva are Norwegian settlements, while
Barentsburg, with approximately 1000 inhabitants, is Russian (Humlum et al., 2003).
CLIMATE
Svalbard is located in the main transport pathway for air masses into the Arctic Basin,
and the climate is characterized by cool summers and cold winters. The North Atlantic
current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and
navigable most of the year. A major climatic control, especially for winter conditions,
is the Siberian High, an intense, cold anticyclone that forms over eastern Siberia in
winter. When the Siberian high extends far to the west, it covers Russia and part of
Europe, creating a strong southerly airflow over the Nordic seas, causing advection of
warm air to the Svalbard region. During such events, heavy snowfall and even
snowmelt may occur in Svalbard in the middle of the winter (Humlum et al., 2003).
Air temperature can vary from less than 40°C to more than +20°C, with an average
annual temperature at sea level of around 5°C in Ny Ålesund and slightly colder at
Longyearbyen (Svalbard Airport). There are pronounced long term fluctuations in
Arctic climate and air temperature, but no significant long term trends. From the start
of observations in 1910 there was a positive trend up to the late 1930s, a decrease to
the 1960s, and a new increase to present temperatures. Despite strong warming in the
decades since the mid-1960s, the air temperature today (2000) is still below the
warmest two decades in the 1930s and 1940s (Førland & Hanssen-Bauer, 2003).
HYDROLOGICAL RESEARCH CATCHMENTS
The first runoff measurements in Svalbard were started in Bayelva in 1974. These
measurements were stopped in 1978, but started again in 1990 as part of an initiative
taken by the Norwegian National Hydrological Committee in 1987. In 1990 a second
runoff station was started in De Geerdalen, about 20 km northeast of Longyearbyen.
Since then, both these stations have been in continuous operation, and the two
catchments have since been the main hydrological research catchments in Svalbard.
The data in Tables 1 and 2 display long term consideration of all water balance
components.
WATER BALANCE ELEMENTS
The main elements of the water balance in an Arctic catchment are precipitation,
runoff, evapotranspiration, and storage change. In order to compute the water balance,
all elements should be measured or estimated by independent methods.
Ånund Killingtveit
4
Table 1 Main data for the Bayelva catchment.
Name
Location
Bayelva,
Spitsbergen, Svalbard. 78o55N, 11o56E
Area
30.9 km2
Permafrost extent
Continuous
Soils description
Moraines, riverbed, tundra, rock
Vegetation
Uniform lichen cover with patches of rock sedge (Carex rupestris) and
mountain avens (Dryas octopetela). There are no trees or tall shrubs. At
higher elevations mostly gravel, stones and rock.
Climate
High Arctic, mean annual temperature 6.3ºC
Topography
It consists of a flat river plain in the centre, and steep and tall mountains from
southeast to southwest, the Zeppelin and the Schetelig mountains. Elevation
ranges from 4 up to 742 m a.s.l., average elevation is 265 m a.s.l.
Glaciers
55% of the catchment is covered by glaciers
Period of record
Runoff 19741978 and 1990 to date.
Precipitation and climate from 1950.
Sediment transport 19741978 and 1989 to date.
Other
A permanent research station is located in Ny Ålesund, and an airport with
regular flights. Excellent conditions for field oriented research.
Table 2 Main data for the De Geerdalen catchment.
Name
Location
De Geerdalen (The De Geer valley)
Spitsbergen, Svalbard. 78º16N, 11º19E
Area
79.1 km2
Permafrost extent
Continuous
Soils description
Moraines, riverbed, tundra, rock
Vegetation
Uniform lichen cover with patches of rock sedge (Carex rupestris) and
mountain avens (Dryas octopetela). There are no trees or tall shrubs. At
higher elevations mostly gravel, stones and rock.
Climate
High Arctic, mean annual temperature 6°C
Average measured precipitation 182 mm/year
Topography
It consists of a river valley in the centre, with mountains on both sides.
Elevation ranges from 40 to 987 m.a.s.l., average is 410 m.a.s.l.,
Glaciers
10% of the catchment is covered by glaciers
Period of record
Runoff from 1990 to date
Precipitation and climate from 1911 (Svalbard Airport 20 km southeast)
Seasonal snow measured since 1991
Other
Approximately 20 km from Longyearbyen with airport.
Runoff
In Svalbard, almost all river runoff occurs during the four months from June to
September. In the autumn, all rivers freeze up completely, except short reaches of
rivers fed by springs or in front of some glaciers. Runoff measurements are difficult to
collect, due to ice and snow blocking the river channel at gauging stations, and due to
unstable river beds in braided rivers with high rates of sediment transport. The runoff
gauging station in Bayelva is shown in Fig. 2. The station is located near a narrow
gorge, close to the river outlet into Adventfjorden. The station is equipped with an
automatic water level recorder, and sediment sampling equipment for both suspended
Water balance studies in two catchments on Spitsbergen, Svalbard
5
Fig. 2 Runoff gauging station in Bayelva (Photo 5 September 2000 by Å. Killingtveit).
load and bedload measurements. Some results from the sediment measurements are
presented by Bogen & Bønsnes (2003).
A summary of runoff data for hydrological years (SeptemberAugust) for the two
catchments for the period 1990/1991 to 2001/2002 can be found in Tables 3 and 4.
Runoff has been converted to mm per year. The average monthly specific runoff for
the two catchments is shown in Fig. 3.
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Runoff, mm/month
Bayelva
De Geerdalen
Fig. 3 Average specific runoff distribution in Bayelva and De Geerdalen 19912001.
Ånund Killingtveit
6
Table 3 Water balance (mm year-1) for the Bayelva catchment.
PA
(mm)
ΔG
(mm)
Q
(mm)
E
(mm)
ε
(mm)
1990/91
1016
72
947
40
42
1991/92
845
55
1097
39
237
1992/93
856
567
1292
45
85
1993/94
1472
88
962
29
568
1994/95
355
429
1005
41
263
1995/96
1398
94
1012
26
453
1996/97
659
484
1008
30
104
1997/98
548
622
1061
39
69
1998/99
780
198
1227
40
289
1999/00
751
61
877
11
76
2000/01
1109
247
1316
42
2
Average
890
252
1073
35
34
SD
339
236
145
10
275
PA: areal precipitation; ΔG: glacier melt; Q: runoff; E: evaporation; ε: error term.
Table 4 Water balance (mm year-1) for the De Geerdalen catchment.
PA
(mm)
ΔG
(mm)
Q
(mm)
E
(mm)
ε
(mm)
1990/91
680
14
573
70
23
1991/92
600
11
489
69
52
1992/93
637
109
641
93
12
1993/94
709
17
429
45
252
1994/95
339
83
481
77
136
1995/96
750
18
463
53
252
1996/97
544
93
596
50
8
1997/98
322
120
605
103
266
1998/99
449
38
472
69
54
1999/00
524
12
593
65
122
2000/01
469
48
586
95
166
Average
548
49
539
72
-15
SD
143
45
72
19
162
PA: areal precipitation; ΔG: glacier melt; Q: runoff; E: evaporation; ε: error term.
Almost all runoff occurs between June and September. The specific runoff is
almost the same in both catchments during June, when snowmelt is the dominating
process. After snowmelt, the glacial melt, together with precipitation, produces a much
higher specific runoff in Bayelva than in De Geerdalen, due to a larger percentage of
glaciers in Bayelva.
Precipitation
Precipitation is currently measured at six manual weather stations in Svalbard. One of
these is located in Ny Ålesund, close to the Bayelva catchment; another is at Svalbard
Water balance studies in two catchments on Spitsbergen, Svalbard
7
Airport, about 20 km southwest of De Geerdalen. The combination of dry snow, high
wind speed and open tundra increases measuring errors for precipitation at most
stations in the Arctic, and true precipitation for all stations at Svalbard is probably 50%
higher than measured (Førland & Hanssen-Bauer, 2003).
In addition, there is the problem of non-representative location for the precipitation
stations. All precipitation stations are located in settlements close to the sea, and at
elevations close to sea level. It is well known that precipitation usually increases with
increasing elevation, and this has also been verified at Svalbard. Studies using
precipitation gauges (Førland & Hanssen-Bauer, 2003), snow measurements (Humlum
et al., 2003; Killingtveit et al., 2003; Winther et al., 2003) and mass balance of
glaciers (Hagen et al., 2003), all confirm that the precipitation gradient is significant,
and often of the order of 1520%, or even higher at some locations. The gradient is
highest along the coast and lower inland (Humlum et al., 2003).
Before precipitation data can be used in water balance calculations, it is therefore
necessary to make corrections both for catchment errors and for elevation gradients.
These corrections are explained in detail in Killingtveit et al. (2003). An average
correction factor of 1.15 for rainfall and 1.65 for snow precipitation was used for the
Ny-Ålesund data and slightly higher correction factors, 1.15 and 1.75, were used for
the Svalbard Airport data. An average precipitation gradient of 15% per 100 m
increase in elevation from sea level was used for the Bayelva catchments, 20% per
100 m for De Geerdalen. The results (areal precipitation) are shown in Tables 5 and 6.
Evaporation
Evaporation measurements have been (and are still) very scarce in Svalbard. There are
still no regular measurements of evaporation, and estimates must be based on
correlation to air temperature or data from other catchments. In Killingtveit et al.
(2003) the average annual evaporation from glacier-free catchments close to sea level
Table 5 Areal precipitation calculation for Bayelva based on precipitation data from Ny Ålesund
(Killingtveit et al., 2003).
Hydrological
year
P
(mm year-1)
ΔPC
(mm year-1)
ΔPE
(mm year-1)
PA
(mm year-1)
19901991
472
252
293
1016
19911992
420
182
243
845
19921993
396
213
247
856
19931994
678
369
424
1472
19941995
169
84
102
355
19951996
648
348
403
1398
19961997
312
157
190
659
19971998
242
148
158
548
19981999
380
175
225
780
19992000
387
148
217
751
20002001
582
207
320
1109
Average
426
207
256
890
P: observed precipitation; ΔPC: catch correction; ΔPE: elevation correction; PA: areal precipitation.
Ånund Killingtveit
8
Table 6 Areal precipitation calculation for De Geerdalen based on precipitation data from Ny Ålesund
(Killingtveit et al., 2003).
Hydrological
year
P
(mm year-1)
ΔPC
(mm year-1)
ΔPE
(mm year-1)
PA
(mm year-1)
1990/91
239
135
306
680
1991/92
221
109
270
600
1992/93
212
138
287
637
1993/94
261
128
319
709
1994/95
120
66
153
339
1995/96
264
148
338
750
1996/97
202
97
245
544
1997/98
110
68
145
322
1998/99
178
69
203
449
1999/2000
196
92
236
524
2000/2001
189
68
211
469
Average
199
102
247
548
P: observed precipitation; ΔPC: catch correction; ΔPE: elevation correction; PA: areal precipitation.
was estimated at approximately 100 mm year-1. Due to the negative temperature lapse
rate, both the air temperature and evaporation are reduced at higher elevations, and the
average evaporation from non-glaciated areas in the two catchments were estimated at
80 mm year-1 in Bayelva and 82 mm year-1 in De Geerdalen. The average annual
evaporation of glaciers is assumed to be nil. This assumption may be questioned, but to
date no studies have quantified the annual evaporation from glaciers on Svalbard.
There are probably some sublimation losses during winter, and some condensation
during summer, of about the same magnitude. On average, evaporation from the total
catchment was computed to be 35 mm year-1 in Bayelva and 72 mm year-1 in De
Geerdalen. Evaporation for each hydrological year is shown in Tables 3 and 4,
computed from air temperature data, using a method similar to that described in
Killingtveit et al. (1994).
Storage changes
If the water balance is computed on an annual basis and for hydrological years, most of
the storage terms can be neglected. One remaining storage term of great importance is
the change in glacier storage. Time series of terrestrial and aerial photographs show
that most Svalbard glaciers have been retreating and thinning since about 1900. Small
glaciers (<5 km2) and glaciers below 500 m a.m.s.l. seem to have a negative mass
balance, while some larger glaciers and glaciers covering higher accumulation areas
seem to be closer to equilibrium (Hagen et al., 2003).
In Bayelva and De Geerdalen the glaciers are small and located at low elevation,
and the average net balance has been negative during most years. The average net
balance for the glaciers in Bayelva during the hydrological year 1990/91 to 2000/01
was estimated to be 458 mm year-1. In De Geerdalen the net balance was estimated to
be 550 mm year-1 in the same period. This makes a very significant contribution to the
annual runoff; in Bayelva 24% and in De Geerdalen almost 10% of annual runoff was
Water balance studies in two catchments on Spitsbergen, Svalbard
9
generated from glacial melt. In Tables 3 and 4 the annual change in glacier storage has
been converted to mm year-1 for the whole catchment, by considering the percentage of
area covered by glaciers (Killingtveit et al., 2003).
WATER BALANCE
The water balance equation for a catchment can be written:
PA QS QG EA ± ΔM = ε
where PA is a real precipitation input (mm), QS is surface (river) runoff from the
catchment (mm), QG is groundwater runoff from the catchment (mm), EA is
evaporation from the catchment (mm), ΔM is changes in water storage within the
catchment (mm) and ε is an error term (mm).
The water balance for each of the two catchments is summarized in Tables 3 and 4.
The water balance is based on data for runoff, areal precipitation (Tables 5 and 6),
evaporation, and glacier storage change. Groundwater runoff was assumed to be non-
existent, because of the deep permafrost layer.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The water balance for the two catchments has an average residual term close to zero,
so in this sense the water balance measurements are good. But errors in individual
years are still large, with positive and negative deviations. This indicates that the
individual terms in the water balance are still not known well enough; the largest errors
are probably due to insufficient knowledge of precipitation corrections and glacial
balance. Even if evaporation is not a dominant factor in the water balance, it would be
useful to improve both data collection and computational methods. Both evaporation
from bare ground and snow should be studied (Killingtveit et al., 2003).
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Killingtveit, Å., Pettersson, L-E. & Sand, K. (1994) Water balance studies in Spitsbergen, Svalbard. In: Proc. 10th
International Research Basins Symposium and Workshop (Spitsbergen, Norway) (ed. by K. Sand & Å. Killingtveit).
7794. SINTEF Report 22 A96415, Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
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Winther, J-G., Bruland, O., Sand, K., Gerland, S., Marechal, D., Ivanov, B., Glowacki, P. & Kønig, M. (2003) Snow
research in Svalbard. Polar Res. 22, 125-144.
... In the Lon don elva catchment they used a gradient of 31 %/100 m, a value found from analyses of snow survey data from the years 1996-98 in the same catchment. Finally, they used a gradient of 14 %/100 m in the De Geerdalen catchment with reference to Killingtveit et al. (1994). ...
... This value was later also used by Hagen & Lefauconnier (1993. In the fi nal report from the LAPP project (Institute of Hydrology et al. 1999) the use of evaporation data in water balance computations is discussed with reference to Hagen & Lefauconnier (1993) and Killingtveit et al. (1994). The value of 100 mm/year is used, the report stating that "Still, no better estimate exists, and we have used the same value in our study" (p. ...
... To improve evaporation estimates, a Class A Evaporation pan was installed in Ny-Ålesund in 1992 and operated by SINTEF. Some early results from the measurements are reported in Killingtveit et al. (1994). The annual pan evaporation was estimated to 166 mm, based on pan measurements and some computed values where a regression equation between evaporation and air temperature was used to infi ll data gaps. ...
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... For example, some of its components such as condensation (C) and evaporation (E a ) are still based on artificial assumptions and constants created from sparse measurements performed over 30 years ago (C =9.38 mm/y, E a =46.88mm/y Killingtveit et al. 1994). Although using those constants had merits, we now know that meteorological conditions vary greatly across Svalbard, and even small differences between locations of measuring sites may cause substantial changes in the obtained results . ...
... The monitoring station is located in a narrow gorge in part of a waterfall with a stable rock profile. Meteorological measurements were carried out for a few years in the early 1990's as part of the first water balance studies used to estimate precipitation-elevation gradients (Killingtveit et al. 1994) Restricted to melt season only (usually May-October). Snowmelt, rainfall, ground ice melt ...
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... Only for 12 research watersheds in Russia (Vasilenko, 2004;Zhuravin, 2004a and2004b;Balonishnikova et al., 2004) and 2 in Norway (Svalbard; Killingtveit, 2004) were complete measurements made so that the error term could be truly determined. In some cases the change in storage term was assumed to be negligible and therefore ignored. ...
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Conference Paper
Ice, snow frozen soils and large annual fluctuations in the surface energy balance are characteristics of high latitude catchments; it is therefore accepted that the hydrologic response of these watersheds will differ from those in more temperate regions at lower latitudes. The difficulty is that there have only been a few water balance studies at high latitudes, often marginally supported. Water balance data from 39 high latitude catchments was presented and discussed at a synthesis workshop in 2004 at Victoria, BC, Canada. When we examine these data sets, we see that there are outliers in almost all of the plots which generally have a simple explanation. Usually, annual precipitation decreases with latitude, although precipitation decreases with latitude the fraction that is snow increases with latitude, runoff ratio increases as the snow fraction increases, average annual ET decreases with increasing latitude due primarily to the decreasing energy availability, there is no relationship between ET and vegetation (both boreal/mixed forest and tundra had a very wide range of annual ET), the ratio of average annual ET over the average annual precipitation decreases as latitude increases, and the runoff ratio increases at higher latitudes. Storage in many forms is a major contributor to the closure error in the water balance computation.
... Singh, et al. (2004) conducted a water balance study in Nana Kosi watershed, in the district of Almora (Uttranchal) using the Thornthwaite and Mather (TM) model with the help of Remote Sensing and GIS and besides showing the seasonal pattern of precipitation, actual evapotranspiration (AET), potential evapotranspiration (PET) and runoff, periods of moisture deficit and soil moisture recharge were also indicated. Killingtveit (2004) through his study found that the water balance for the two catchments at Svalbard has an average residual term close to zero, but there were large errors in individual years with positive and negative deviations, the reason for this was that the individual terms in the water balance were not known well enough. Victoria, et al. (2006) simulated the monthly water balance for the Ji-Parana river basin, in the Western Amazonian state of Rondonia using Thornthwaite-Mather climatological model and compared the observed discharge data with the modeled results, which indicated an under estimation of basin ET and an excess water surplus. ...
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Article
With the increasing demand and decreasing supplies of water, the water crisis is growing critically. Thus a shortage of water in future is inevitable unless we look for some technical ways of using water more efficiently. It is must to have an idea about the water availability and water requirements. So, water balance studies on river basins are important because it provides quantitative information on water availability and water requirements. In the present study an attempt has been made to compute the water balance of Bina river watershed, a major tributary of Betwa river in Madhya Pradesh using the Thornthwaite and Mather’s model. The land use, soil texture, and other watershed parameters required as input to the model have been generated with the help of Remote Sensing and GIS techniques. The observed values of rainfall and runoff for the year 2007-2010 have been utilized for evaluation of the model. The results show that the yearly potential evapotranspiration in the watershed is 1229.31 mm. The actual evapotranspiration depends on the available soil moisture, viz. the duration and quantity of rainfall. The annual runoff in the basin is estimated to be 45.5% of the annual rainfall, which is high due to rocky & hilly terrain. The study reveals that the streams are generally dry in the months of November to June. Groundwater recharge (Soil moisture storage) takes place during July, however July, August, September & October months are the period of water surplus.
... Bauer et al. (1996) suggest the following corrections of measured precipitation; 5 -10 % increase of liquid precipitation, 65 -75 % increase of solid precipitation (snow) and around 40 % increase of sleet (or mixed precipitation). Killingtveit et al. (1994) found an increase in summer precipitation of 5 -10 % (of observed precipitation) for every 100 m increase in altitude. Based on snow surveys, Tveit & Killingtveit (1994) assumed a corresponding winter (snow) gradient of 14 %. ...
... e mass balance of 423 mm water equivalent per year. As a large portion of the precipitation falls as snow during high winds, the catch losses are high. Bauer et al. (1 996) gives typical correction factors of 1.65-1.75, 1.05-1.10 and around 1.4 for solid precipitation (snow), for liquid precipitation and sleet (or mixed precipitation) respectively. Killingtveit et al. (1994) found an increase in summer precipitation of 5-10% for every 100 m increase in altitude; based on snow surveys Tveit and Killingtveit (1994) assumed a corresponding winter (snow) gradient of 14%. Hagen and Lefauconnier (1995) found, on the basis of glacial mass balance studies at the Austre Bragger glacier, a fairly constant altitudinal ...
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Article
In several studies of snowmelt using the temperature index method from the original HBV-model, the model fails to predict the timing of the snowmelt and underestimates the intensities on occasions with high solar radiation and low air temperatures. This is especially evident at high latitudes such as catchments on Svalbard, but can also be the case for catchments at lower latitudes but at higher elevations and thus of importance to hydropower production. In this study, an energy balance calculation replaces the simple temperature index model in a spreadsheet version of the HBV-model. Calculation of average snow pack temperatures is included, and a new method is introduced to account for uneven snow distribution and glacial melt. This energy balance based HBV-model gives a better simulation of both snow and glacial melt. It was also found that estimates of sensible heat were improved by using a function with a non-linear wind speed dependency.
... On average, evaporation from the total catchment was computed to be 35 mm year" 1 in Bayelva and 72 mm year" 1 in De Geerdalen. Evaporation for each hydrological year is shown in Tables 3 and 4, computed from air temperature data, using a method similar to that described in Killingtveit et al (1994). ...
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Article
Hydrological studies at Svalbard have been concentrated in two catchments in particular, the Bayelva catchment near Ny Alesund and De Geerdalen near Longyearbyen. Hydrological processes and water balance in these and some other catchments were monitored and studied in several projects during the 1990s and a summary of the main results were presented in a series of papers in the journal Polar Research in 2003. This paper contains a summary of some of these results, supplemented with a description of the catchments. The runoff in Svalbard is dominated by snowmelt and glacial melt. The runoff is usually much higher than observed precipitation, since the precipitation gauges only can catch around 50% of the precipitation due to strong winds, low temperatures, and snow precipitation. Evaporation is low, less than 100 mm year" 1 from glacier-free areas, and probably close to zero from glaciers.
... The first known water balance study in Svalbard was carried out in the Kongsfjorden area in 1968 (Geoffray, 1968). Killingtveit et al. (1994 review and summarises all known previous water balance studies in Svalbard. An updated water balance computation was also carried out for the three water catchments with the best data: Bayelva, De Geerdalen and Isdammen/Endalen for 12 hydrological years, 1990 -2001. ...
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Technical Report
The report gives a general description of the climate and hydrological conditions as a background for information on NVE’s work in Svalbard. The hydrological stations that NVE has operated in Svalbard since 1989 are treated, as well as examples of the collected data (from the stations). The climatic conditions in Svalbard introduce special challenges regarding the establishment and the operation of hydrological stations.
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In this paper, we addressed a sensitivity analysis of the snow module of the GEOtop2.0 model at point and catchment scale in a small high-elevation catchment in the Eastern Italian Alps (catchment size: 61 km²). Simulated snow depth and snow water equivalent at the point scale were compared with measured data at four locations from 2009–2013. At the catchment scale, simulated snow covered area was compared with binary snow cover maps derived from MODIS and Landsat satellite imagery. Sensitivity analyses were used to assess the effect of different model parameterisations on model performance at both scales and the effect of different thresholds of simulated snow depth on the agreement with MODIS data.
Chapter
A drainage basin is a most natural hydrologic unit. Guided by topography, a drainage divide separates the water that flows into and away from a catchment. A basin integrates the disparate hydrologic activities occurring spatially within its domain. Streamflow characteristics are a manifestation of the combined results of various hydrologic processes occurring in a basin. Basin water balance investigation yields information on how much water is gained and lost in quantitative terms.
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This paper discusses sediment yield, sediment delivery and processes of erosion in rivers subject to High Arctic conditions in Svalbard. Long-term measurements reveal large variations between rivers and from year to year in each individual river. In the unglacierized catchment of Londonelva, annual sediment transport varied between 28 and 93 t/yr, with a mean sediment yield of 82.5 t/km2/yr. In the glacier-fed rivers Bayelva and Endalselva, the suspended sediment transport varied in the range of 5126 t/yr to 22797 t/yr during a 12-year period. A mean of 11 104 t/yr gave rise to a mean sediment yield of 359 t/km2/yr for the whole Bayelva catchment area. The sediment yield of the glacier and the moraine area was estimated at 586 t/km2/yr. A conceptual model used to interpret the long- and short-term patterns of sediment concentration in the meltwater from the glacier and erosion of the neoglacial moraines is proposed. Evidence is found that a proportion of the sediments are delivered by a network of englacial and subglacial channels that exist even in cold ice. Regression analyses of water discharge versus suspended sediment concentration gave significant correlations found to be associated with the stability of ice tunnels in cold ice. Large floods have been found to flush the waterways and exhaust the sediment sources. A long-term change in the exponent of regression lines is attributed to changes in sediment availability caused by flushing and expansion of tunnels and waterways by large floods and a subsequent slow deformation of them caused by the ice overburden and the glacier movement. A comparison of sediment yields from a number of polythermal and temperate glaciers in various areas showed large differences that were attributed primarily to bedrock susceptibility to erosion and, secondarily, to glaciological parameters.
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Article
Sparse stations and serious measuring problems hamper analyses of climatic conditions in the Arctic. This paper presents a discussion of measuring problems in the Arctic and gives an overview of observed past and projected future climate variations in Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Novel analyses of temperature conditions during precipitation and trends in fractions of solid/liquid precipitation at the Arctic weather stations are also outlined. Analyses based on combined and homogenized series from the regular weather stations in the region indicate that the measured annual precipitation has increased by more than 2.5% per decade since the measurements started in the beginning of the 20th century. The annual temperature has increased in Svalbard and Jan Mayen during the latest decades, but the present level is still lower than in the 1930s. Downscaled scenarios for Svalbard Airport indicate a further increase in temperature and precipitation. Analyses based on observations of precipitation types at the regular weather stations demonstrate that the annual fraction of solid precipitation has decreased at all stations during the latest decades. The reduced fraction of solid precipitation implies that the undercatch of the precipitation gauges is reduced. Consequently, part of the observed increase in the annual precipitation is fictitious and is due to a larger part of the “true” precipitation being caught by the gauges. With continued warming in the region, this virtual increase will be measured in addition to an eventual real increase.
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Article
This paper discusses sediment yield, sediment delivery and processes of erosion in rivers subject to High Arctic conditions in Svalbard. Long-term measurements reveal large variations between rivers and from year to year in each individual river. In the unglacierized catchment of Londonelva, annual sediment transport varied between 28 and 93 t/yr, with a mean sediment yield of 82.5 t/km2/yr. In the glacier-fed rivers Bayelva and Endalselva, the suspended sediment transport varied in the range of 5126 t/yr to 22797 t/yr during a 12-year period. A mean of 11 104 t/yr gave rise to a mean sediment yield of 359 t/km2/yr for the whole Bayelva catchment area. The sediment yield of the glacier and the moraine area was estimated at 586 t/km2/yr. A conceptual model used to interpret the long- and short-term patterns of sediment concentration in the meltwater from the glacier and erosion of the neoglacial moraines is proposed. Evidence is found that a proportion of the sediments are delivered by a network of englacial and subglacial channels that exist even in cold ice. Regression analyses of water discharge versus suspended sediment concentration gave significant correlations found to be associated with the stability of ice tunnels in cold ice. Large floods have been found to flush the waterways and exhaust the sediment sources. A long-term change in the exponent of regression lines is attributed to changes in sediment availability caused by flushing and expansion of tunnels and waterways by large floods and a subsequent slow deformation of them caused by the ice overburden and the glacier movement. A comparison of sediment yields from a number of polythermal and temperate glaciers in various areas showed large differences that were attributed primarily to bedrock susceptibility to erosion and, secondarily, to glaciological parameters.
Article
This paper reviews permafrost in High Arctic Svalbard, including past and current research, climatic background, how permafrost is affected by climatic change, typical permafrost landforms and how changes in Svalbard permafrost may impact natural and human systems. Information on active layer dynamics, permafrost and ground ice characteristics and selected periglacial features is summarized from the recent literature and from unpublished data by the authors. Permafrost thickness ranges from less than 100 m near the coasts to more than 500 m in the highlands. Ground ice is present as rock glaciers, as ice-cored moraines, buried glacial ice, and in pingos and ice wedges in major valleys. Engineering problems of thaw-settlement and frost-heave are described, and the implications for road design and construction in Svalbard permafrost areas are discussed.
Article
Gain or loss of the freshwater stored in Svalbard glaciers has both global implications for sea level and, on a more local scale, impacts upon the hydrology of rivers and the freshwater flux to fjords. This paper gives an overview of the potential runoff from the Svalbard glaciers. The freshwater flux from basins of different scales is quantified. In small basins (A < 10 km2), the extra runoff due to the negative mass balance of the glaciers is related to the proportion of glacier cover and can at present yield more than 20% higher runoff than if the glaciers were in equilibrium with the present climate. This does not apply generally to the ice masses of Svalbard, which are mostly much closer to being in balance. The total surface runoff from Svalbard glaciers due to melting of snow and ice is roughly 25 ± 5 km3 a−1, which corresponds to a specific runoff of 680 ± 140 mm a−1, only slightly more than the annual snow accumulation. Calving of icebergs from Svalbard glaciers currently contributes significantly to the freshwater flux and is estimated to be 4 ± 1 km3 a−1 or about 110 mm a−1.
Article
This paper reviews and summarizes all known previous water balance studies in Svalbard. An updated water balance computation was then done for the three water catchments with the best data: Bayelva, De Geerdalen and Isdammen/Endalen for 10 hydrological years 1990-2001. The computations were based on the best available data and correction methods. Special emphasis was put on correction of precipitation data, both for catch errors and gradients in precipitation. Areal precipitation in the three catchments is more than two times the measured precipitation at the closest meteorological station: 548 mm/year in De Geerdalen, 486 mm/year in Endalen/Isdammen and 890 mm/year in Bayelva. Compared to this, average measured precipitation is only 199 mm/year at Svalbard Airport, close to Endalen/Isdammen and De Geerdalen, and 426 mm/year in Ny-Ålesund, close to Bayelva. Evaporation is not well understood in Svalbard; the best estimates indicate an average annual evaporation of ca. 80 mm/year from glacier-free areas, and no net evaporation from glaciers. Glacial mass balance has in general been negative in Svalbard during the last 40 years, leading to a significant contribution to the water balance, on the order of 450 mm/year on average. Annual runoff ranges from 545 mm in Endalen/Isdammen, 539 mm/year in De Geerdalen up to 1050 mm/year in Bayelva. Runoff computed from water balance compares well with observed runoff, and average error in water balance is less than ±30 mm/year in all three catchments.
Article
This paper summarizes the most significant snow-related research that has been conducted in Svalbard. Most of the research has been performed during the 1990s and includes investigations of snow distribution, snow-melt, snow pack characteristics, remote sensing of snow and biological studies where snow conditions play an important role. For example, studies have shown regional trends with about 50% higher amounts of snow accumulation at the east coast of Spitsbergen compared to the west coast. Further, the accumulation rates are about twice as high in the south compared to the north. On average, the increase in accumulation with elevation is 97 mm water equivalents per 100 m increase in elevation. Several researchers reported melt rates, which are primarily driven by incoming short-wave radiation, in the range of 10-20 mm/day during spring. Maximum melt rates close to 70 mm/day have been measured. In addition to presenting an overview of research activities, we discuss new, unpublished results in areas where considerable progress is being made. These are i) modelling of snow distribution, ii) modelling of snowmelt runoff and iii) monitoring of snow coverage by satellite imagery. We also identify some weaknesses in current research activities. They are lacks of i) integration between various studies, ii) comparative studies with other Arctic regions, iii) applying local field studies in models that can be used to study larger areas of Svalbard and, finally, iv) using satellite remote sensing data for operational monitoring purposes.
Snow research in Svalbard
  • J-G Winther
  • O Bruland
  • K Sand
  • S Gerland
  • D Marechal
  • B Ivanov
  • P Glowacki
  • M Kønig
Winther, J-G., Bruland, O., Sand, K., Gerland, S., Marechal, D., Ivanov, B., Glowacki, P. & Kønig, M. (2003) Snow research in Svalbard. Polar Res. 22, 125-144.