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USGS - science for a changing world

Guido Grosse

Arctic lowland landscapes have been modified by thermokarst lake processes throughout the Holocene. Thermokarst lakes form as a result of ice-rich permafrost degradation, and they may expand over time through thermal and mechanical shoreline erosion. We studied proximal and distal sedimentary records from a thermokarst lake located on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska to reconstruct the impact of catchment dynamics and morphology on the lacustrine depositional environment and to quantify carbon accumulation in thermokarst lake sediments. Short cores were collected for analysis of pollen, sedimentological, and geochemical proxies. Radiocarbon and 210Pb/137Cs dating, as well as extrapolation of measured...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: arktos
Arctic tundra landscapes are composed of a complex mosaic of patterned ground features, varying in soil moisture, vegetation composition, and surface hydrology over small spatial scales (10–100 m). The importance of microtopography and associated geomorphic landforms in influencing ecosystem structure and function is well founded, however, spatial data products describing local to regional scale distribution of patterned ground or polygonal tundra geomorphology are largely unavailable. Thus, our understanding of local impacts on regional scale processes (e.g., carbon dynamics) may be limited. We produced two key spatiotemporal datasets spanning the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska (~60,000 km2) to evaluate...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Scientific Data
In landscapes underlain by ice-rich permafrost, the development of thermokarst landforms can have drastic impacts on ecosystem processes and human infrastructure. Here we describe the distribution of thermokarst landforms in the continuous permafrost zone of Arctic Alaska, analyze linkages to the underlying surficial geology, and discuss the vulnerability of different types of landscapes to future thaw. We identified nine major thermokarst landforms and then mapped their distributions in twelve representative study areas totaling 300-km2. These study areas differ in their geologic history, permafrost-ice content, and ground thermal regime. Results show that 63% of the entire study area is occupied by thermokarst...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Geomorphology
Arctic tundra ecosystems have experienced unprecedented change associated with climate warming over recent decades. Across the Pan-Arctic, vegetation productivity and surface greenness have trended positively over the period of satellite observation. However, since 2011 these trends have slowed considerably, showing signs of browning in many regions. It is unclear what factors are driving this change and which regions/landforms will be most sensitive to future browning. Here we provide evidence linking decadal patterns in arctic greening and browning with regional climate change and local permafrost-driven landscape heterogeneity. We analyzed the spatial variability of decadal-scale trends in surface greenness across...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Scientific Reports
Thermokarst processes characterize a variety of ice-rich permafrost terrains and often lead to lake formation. The long-term evolution of thermokarst landscapes and the stability and longevity of lakes depend upon climate, vegetation and ground conditions, including the volume of excess ground ice and its distribution. The current lake status of thermokarst-lake landscapes and their future trajectories under climate warming are better understood in the light of their long-term development. We studied the lake-rich southern marginal upland of the Yukon Flats (northern interior Alaska) using dated lake-sediment cores, observations of river-cut exposures, and remotely-sensed data. The region features thick (up to 40...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Sedimentary Geology
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