Krycklan Catchment Study

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Krycklan Catchment Study (KCS) is located approximately 50 km northwest of the city of Umeå in northern Sweden (64°, 14′N, 19°46′E). The Svartberget subcatchment (Nyänget or catchment 7 (C7)) located in the upper parts of the Krycklan catchment was established as a research catchment 1980. Since 1984, forest (Västrabäcken, C2) and mire-dominated (Kallkälsmyren, C4) subcatchments of Svartberget have been monitored. In 2002, the research at the 50 ha Svartberget catchment expanded and now includes 18 partly nested subcatchments in the 6800 ha Krycklan catchment.

The Krycklan catchment encompasses the natural mosaic of boreal landscapes consisting of forests, mires, streams and lakes that make up 70% of the area in Sweden, and which is representative of 30% of the world’s forest cover.

Catchment size

Recognition of the need to work at the landscape scale when addressing the influence of climate on aquatic ecology led to expansion of the 50 ha Svartberget catchment to the 6800 ha Krycklan catchment in 2002. This has led to a broadening of both the fundamental research questions and the management issues that are being addressed.


The climate is characterized as a cold temperate humid type with persistent snow cover during the winter season. The 30 year mean annual temperature (1981–2010) is 1.8°C, January −9.5°C, and July +14.7°C, mean annual precipitation is 614 mm, annual mean runoff is 311 mm, giving an annual average evapotranspiration of 303 mm. Above and below ground climate data have been monitored since 1980 as part of a reference monitoring program. Standard meteorological variables are monitored following World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommendations and additional variables of particular research interest. In total, approximately 100 variables are automatically measured with a time resolution of 10 min or hourly collection. Another 20 variables, including phenological observations, are manually recorded.

Geology, Topography and Vegetation/Land use

Bedrock in the Krycklan area is dominated by Svecofennian metasediments/metagraywacke (94%) with 4% acid and intermediate metavolcanic rocks and 3% basic metavolcanic rocks. Quaternary deposits are dominated by till (51%) and sorted sediments (30%). The catchment ranges in elevation from 114 to 405 m above sea level (a.s.l.). The region was glaciated and is undergoing isostatic rebound following the last deglaciation. The highest postglacial coastline therefore traverses the catchment at approximately 257 m a.s.l dividing the catchment in two distinctly different areas. At higher altitudes the quaternary deposits are dominated by till and peat; at lower altitudes, postglacial sedimentary deposits dominate. In the till soils, well-developed iron podzols dominate the forest floor soils, but near the stream channels, the organic content increases, forming a riparian peat zone along the streams. Forest covers 87% of the catchment, mires 9%, and thin soils and rock outcrops 7% and 1%, respectively. The land use is dominated by forestry, approximately, 25% of the Krycklan catchment has been protected since 1922, but most of the other area is second growth forest. From satellite imagery, 76 clear cuts were detected in the catchment between the years 1999–2010, covering a total of 7% of the catchment. Other than that, human impact is low with only 2% arable land and a population in the catchment of less than 100 people.

Context of investigation

The research in the area started over 100 years ago to study the effects of paludification on forestry. When the new field station was established in Svartberget in the late 1970’s, the research focus was on forest hydrology and biogeochemical cycling. This early work was followed in the 1990’s by a decade of more intensive work on the role of acid deposition on stream water chemistry. This research contributed to new views of anthropogenic acidification and natural acidity in organic carbon-rich boreal waters. During recent years, the research scope has expanded substantially to include more research on biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, hydrology and ecology. More intensive work also began on the connection between soils and surface waters, leading to a more process-based understanding of the regulation of stream water chemistry.

In recent years, KCS has also transformed into a unique experimental platform for testing pure and applied research questions in a natural environment. The platform is continuously attracting new scientific projects such as several strong research environments, but has also resulted in direct collaboration with the Swedish Nuclear Waste Program, Swedish EPA, Sveaskog and others.


Hydrology, Soil Water, Stream Water Chemistry, Biogeochemistry, Soil Frost Manipulation, Riparian Zones, Mires, Ground Water, Temperature, Soil Moist, Lidar, GIS, Ecology and more.

Links to project webpages

Krycklan Catchment Study[1]

Part of Unit for field based research at Swedish University of Agricultural Science [2]. Part of Integrated Carbon Observation system ICOS [3]. Part of Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Sciences SITES [4]


Ågren, A.M., W. Lidberg, M. Strömgren, J. Ogilvie, and P.A. Arp /(2014), Evaluating digital terrain indices for soil wetness mapping - a Swedish case study, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3623-3634, DOI: 10.5194/hess-18-3623-2014. [5]
Kuglerova, L, R. Jansson, , A. Agren, H. Laudon, and B. Malm-Renöfält (2014), Groundwater discharge creates hotspots of riparian plant species richness in a boreal forest stream network, ECOLOGY 95(3), 715-725, DOI: 10.1890/13-0363.1.
Laudon, H., I. Taberman, A. Ågren, M. Futter, M. Ottosson-Löfvenius, and K. Bishop (2013), The Krycklan Catchment Study—A flagship infrastructure for hydrology, biogeochemistry, and climate research in the boreal landscape, Water Resources Research, 49, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20520. [6]
Newton, S., t. Bidleman, , M. Bergknut, J. Racine, H. Laudon, R. Gieslerf and K. Wiberg (2014), Atmospheric deposition of persistent organic pollutants and chemicals of emerging concern at two sites in northern Sweden, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE-PROCESSES & IMPACTS, 16(2), 298-305, DOI: 10.1039/C3EM00590A.
Persson, H. and J.E.S. Fransson (2014), Forest Variable Estimation Using Radargrammetric Processing of TerraSAR-X Images in Boreal Forests, REMOTE SENSING 6(3), 2084-2107, DOI: 10.3390/rs6032084.
Sundman, A., T. Karlsson, H. Laudon, and P. Persson (2014), XAS study of iron speciation in soils and waters from a boreal catchment, CHEMICAL GEOLOGY, 364, 93-102, DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2013.11.023.
Venkiteswaran J.J., S.L. Schiff and M.B. Wallin (2014), Large Carbon Dioxide Fluxes from Headwater Boreal and Sub-Boreal Streams, PLoS ONE 9(7): e101756. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101756 [7]