EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

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Observing a Catastrophic Thermokarst Lake Drainage in Northern Alaska

The formation and drainage of thermokarst lakes have reshaped ice-rich permafrost lowlands in the Arctic throughout the Holocene. North of Teshekpuk Lake, on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska, thermokarst lakes presently occupy 22.5% of the landscape, and drained thermokarst lake basins occupy 61.8%. Analysis of remotely sensed imagery indicates that nine lakes (>10 ha) have drained in the 1,750 km2 study area between 1955 and 2014. The most recent lake drainage was observed using in situ data loggers providing information on the duration and magnitude of the event, and a nearby weather station provided information on the environmental conditions preceding the lake drainage. Lake 195 (L195), an 80 ha thermokarst lake with an estimated water volume of ~872,000 m3, catastrophically drained on 05 July 2014. Abundant winter snowfall and heavy early summer precipitation resulted in elevated lake water levels that likely promoted bank overtopping, thermo-erosion along an ice-wedge network, and formation of a 9 m wide, 2 m deep, and 70 m long drainage gully. The lake emptied in 36 hours, with 75% of the water volume loss occurring in the first ten hours. The observed peak discharge of the resultant flood was 25 m3/s, which is similar to that in northern Alaska river basins whose areas are more than two orders of magnitude larger. Our findings support the catastrophic nature of sudden lake drainage events and the mechanistic hypotheses developed by J. Ross Mackay. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Data and Resources

  • View website
    Website :: Publisher's website

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ppp.1842/full

Status: Complete
Type: Project
Data Types: Report
Primary Contact
Arp, Christopher
Email: cdarp@alaska.edu
Primary Agency
EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Type
Academic

Funding Agency
EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Type
Academic

Other Agencies
National Science Foundation

ISO Topics
inlandWaters

Geo-keywords
Alaska, Arctic

Direct Record Link
http://northern.epscor.alaska.edu/catalogs/11751-observing-a-catastrophic-thermokarst-lake-drain
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Published by Lisa
    2016-09-28 16:08:45 -0800
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Updated by Lisa
    2016-09-28 16:08:40 -0800
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Updated by Lisa
    2016-09-28 16:07:29 -0800
  • 54f31cdd126d223f25ff87f2305bf214
    New record created
    2016-09-27 12:01:27 -0800
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