Aspen Bibliography


Hydrology of Two Slopes in Subarctic Yukon, Canada

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Hydrological Processes. Special Issue. Special Issue. Canadian Geophysical Union - Hydrology Section.



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Two subarctic forested slopes in central Wolf Creek basin, Yukon, were studied in 1996–1997 to determine the seasonal pattern of the hydrologic processes. A south-facing slope has a dense aspen forest on silty soils with seasonal frost only and a north-facing slope has open stands of black spruce and an organic layer on top of clay sediments with permafrost. Snowmelt is advanced by approximately one month on the south-facing slope due to greater radiation receipt. Meltwater infiltrates its seasonally frozen soil with low ice content, recharging the soil moisture reservoir but yielding no lateral surface or subsurface flow. Summer evaporation depletes this recharged moisture and any additional rainfall input, at the expense of surface or subsurface flow. The north-facing slope with an ice rich substrate hinders deep percolation. Snow meltwater is impounded within the organic layer to produce surface runoff in rills and gullies, and subsurface flow along pipes and within the matrix of the organic soil. During the summer, most subsurface flows are confined to the organic layer which has hydraulic conductivities orders of magnitudes larger than the underlying boulder-clay. Evaporation on the north-facing slope declines as both the frost table and the water table descend in the summer. A water balance of the two slopes demonstrates that vertical processes of infiltration and evaporation dominate moisture exchanges on the south-facing slope, whereas the retardation of deep drainage by frost and by clayey soil on the permafrost slope promotes a strong lateral flow component, principally within the organic layer. These results have the important implication that permafrost slopes and organic horizons are the principal controls on streamflow generation in subarctic catchments. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.