New compilation of formation dates, origins and fates for lakes within the Last Glacial/Permafrost Maximum domain of the Northern Hemisphere

Josefine.Lenz [ at ]


Global lake distribution datasets show that a vast majority of Earth’s lakes by number and area are located in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Lakes abundance in these regions has been linked to histories of glaciation, permafrost, and peatlands (Smith et al., 2007). Although well-dated sedimentary lake records are regularly used for the reconstruction of paleoenvironmental conditions and landscape dynamics, so far no consistent panarctic database exists on the age and origin of northern high latitude lakes. Lake cores, peat cores and exposures detailed in primary literature sources often provide a complete picture of how and when lakes formed. Here, we compile an extensive dataset of 1154 unique lake basal and minimum ages from both past and extant lakes within the domain of glaciation and permafrost extent during the Last Glacial/Permafrost Maximum [Lindgren et al. 2015] collected primarily from detailed literature descriptions. We distinguish ten distinct classes of lake origin after Vincent & Laybourn-Parry [2008] and include information on the fates (both mechanism and timing) of non-extant lakes described in peat cores and exposures. Analysis of the dataset reveals an increase in rates of northern hemisphere lake formation beginning ~14,500 cal. yr BP that was sustained, with a short lull during the Younger Dryas, until it began to generally decrease after ~ 10,500 cal. yr BP. Peak lake formation in regions where ice sheets were present into the early and mid-Holocene occurred later. Formation frequencies for lakes of glacier-dependent origin (i.e. kettle, moraine-dammed, glacial scour) and glacier-independent origin (e.g. oxbow, thermokarst, coastal uplift) coincided, suggesting that climatic factors were driving processes such as glacial retreat and permafrost degradation responsible for lake formation simultaneously. The dataset also reveals a weak correlation (R2 = 0.26) between the timing of lake drainage or terrestrialization and the timing of lake establishment. Although highly variable, the average length of lake persistence on the landscape determined from non-extant lake records was 5460 years. Lindgren, A., Hugelius, G., Kuhry, P., Christensen, T.R., Vandenberghe, J., 2015. GIS-based Maps and Area Estimates of Northern Hemisphere Permafrost Extent during the Last Glacial Maximum. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, n/a-n/a. Smith, L.C., Sheng, Y., MacDonald, G.M., 2007. A first pan-Arctic assessment of the influence of glaciation, permafrost, topography and peatlands on northern hemisphere lake distribution. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 18, 201-208. Vincent, W. F. & J. Laybourn-Parry (Eds.) (2008). Polar Lakes and Rivers. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Publication Status
Event Details
11th International Conference on Permafrost, 20 Jun 2016 - 24 Jun 2016.
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Cite as
Brosius, L. , Treat, C. C. , Lenz, J. , Grosse, G. , Walter Anthony, K. M. and Jones, M. C. (2016): New compilation of formation dates, origins and fates for lakes within the Last Glacial/Permafrost Maximum domain of the Northern Hemisphere , 11th International Conference on Permafrost, 20 June 2016 - 24 June 2016 .


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