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Abstract

The occurrence and temporal variations of polar shallow groundwater systems and associated seasonal springs and seeps are studied using the example of springs and seeps in the vicinity of the eastern coast of Petuniabukta in central Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Altogether, 37 groundwater outflows were documented. The outflows were mostly located at the foot of talus slopes and were characterised by small discharges (<1 dm 3 s −1 ). The water emerging from the outflows varied widely in terms of temperature and specific electrical conductivity (SpC). These outflows were supplied mainly by water from permafrost, melting snowfields and rainfall. Daily changes were studied in four of the outflows during July 2006. The observed water discharges ranged from 0.04 to 0.7 dm 3 s −1 , and the temporal variations for the particular outflows were on the order of 50% of the average value. The water temperature amplitude for particular outflows was up to 1.5 ° C. The SpC was approximately 200 μScm −1 and increased with time by almost 40 μScm −1 in the case of two outflows drain − ing talus slopes. The water emerging from two springs in carbonate and sulphate rocks had an SpC up to 1295 μScm −1 , and in one case, its increase with time was observed to be 300 μScm −1 . The increase in the SpC with time probably reflects a decrease in the contribution of snow meltwater in the groundwater recharge. Among the major local factors affecting the groundwater outflows’ water quality and discharge rate were the following: geomorphology, rock type, meteorological conditions, state of permafrost and local water storage
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