New permafrost is forming around shrinking Arctic lakes, but will it last?

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



Widespread lake shrinkage in cold regions has been linked to climate warming and permafrost thaw. Permafrost aggradation, however, has been observed within the margins of recently receded lakes, in seeming contradiction of climate warming. Here permafrost aggradation dynamics are examined at Twelvemile Lake, a retreating lake in interior Alaska. Observations reveal patches of recently formed permafrost within the dried lake margin, colocated with discrete bands of willow shrub. We test ecological succession, which alters shading, infiltration, and heat transport, as the driver of aggradation using numerical simulation of variably saturated groundwater flow and heat transport with phase change (i.e., freeze-thaw). Simulations support permafrost development under current climatic conditions, but only when net effects of vegetation on soil conditions are incorporated, thus pointing to the role of ecological succession. Furthermore, model results indicate that permafrost aggradation is transitory with further climate warming, as new permafrost thaws within seven decades.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title New permafrost is forming around shrinking Arctic lakes, but will it last?
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2014GL059251
Volume 41
Issue 5
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) OGW Branch of Geophysics
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geophysical Research Letters
First page 1585
Last page 1592
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Twelvemile Lake
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