EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments

Other agencies

Pan-Arctic ice-wedge degradation in warming permafrost and its influence on tundra hydrology

Ice wedges are common features of the subsurface in permafrost regions. They develop by repeated frost cracking and ice vein growth over hundreds to thousands of years. Ice-wedge formation causes the archetypal polygonal patterns seen in tundra across the Arctic landscape. Here we use field and remote sensing observations to document polygon succession due to ice-wedge degradation and trough development in ten Arctic localities over sub-decadal timescales. Initial thaw drains polygon centres and forms disconnected troughs that hold isolated ponds. Continued ice-wedge melting leads to increased trough connectivity and an overall draining of the landscape. We find that melting at the tops of ice wedges over recent decades and subsequent decimetre-scale ground subsidence is a widespread Arctic phenomenon. Although permafrost temperatures have been increasing gradually, we find that ice-wedge degradation is occurring on sub-decadal timescales. Our hydrological model simulations show that advanced ice-wedge degradation can significantly alter the water balance of lowland tundra by reducing inundation and increasing runoff, in particular due to changes in snow distribution as troughs form. We predict that ice-wedge degradation and the hydrological changes associated with the resulting differential ground subsidence will expand and amplify in rapidly warming permafrost regions.

Data and Resources

  • View website
    Website :: Publisher's website

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v9/n4/full/ngeo2674.html

Status: Complete
Type: Project
Data Types: Report
Primary Contact
Kofinas, Gary
Email: gary.kofinas@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/11777-pan-arctic-ice-wedge-degradation-in-warming-per
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Published by Lisa
    2016-10-17 11:12:50 -0800
  • 01c8ceef3d596f40f05bf496ca00d929
    Updated by Lisa
    2016-10-17 11:12:17 -0800
  • A01710a84bb2b48878decca075ee597f
    Updated by Patrick
    2016-10-17 09:55:47 -0800
  • A01710a84bb2b48878decca075ee597f
    Updated by Patrick
    2016-10-17 09:08:18 -0800
  • A01710a84bb2b48878decca075ee597f
    New record created
    2016-10-17 08:49:12 -0800
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