Study of Lhu?’a?a?n Ma?n (Yukon Territory) watershed following glacier runoff rerouting
In May 2016 in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, runoff from Kaskawulsh Glacier, which accounted for nearly 90% of Ä’äy Chù (Southern Tutchone for Slims River) discharge into Lhu?’a?a?n Ma?n (Southern Tutchone for Kluane Lake) was redirected south into the Kaskawulsh River watershed due to the glacier’s retreat. This resulted in lake water level lowering by approximately 2 m during the peak water level month of August. Water samples were collected during the 2021 summer from the lake and contributing water sources to study the hydrological connections in the watershed and model the lake’s water balance. The three objectives for the project over the next year include: 1) lab analyses and data interpretation to determine key sources of water to the lake and the fluctuations in source dominance over the summer season; 2) under-ice lake water sample collection during the winter; and 3) communication of findings and youth outreach. The results of this project will help understand how rerouting of glacial runoff impacts water resource availability and will help answer questions asked by the communities living in the Kluane Lake area and other communities who rely on glacially-fed freshwater sources.