PeRL: a circum-Arctic Permafrost Region Pond and Lake database

Sina.Muster [ at ]


Ponds and lakes are abundant in Arctic permafrost lowlands. They play an important role in Arctic wetland ecosystems by regulating carbon, water, and energy fluxes and providing freshwater habitats. However, ponds, i.e., waterbodies with surface areas smaller than 1. 0 × 104 m2, have not been inventoried on global and regional scales. The Permafrost Region Pond and Lake (PeRL) database presents the results of a circum-Arctic effort to map ponds and lakes from modern (2002–2013) high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery with a resolution of 5 m or better. The database also includes historical imagery from 1948 to 1965 with a resolution of 6 m or better. PeRL includes 69 maps covering a wide range of environmental conditions from tundra to boreal regions and from continuous to discontinuous permafrost zones. Waterbody maps are linked to regional permafrost landscape maps which provide information on permafrost extent, ground ice volume, geology, and lithology. This paper describes waterbody classification and accuracy, and presents statistics of waterbody distribution for each site. Maps of permafrost landscapes in Alaska, Canada, and Russia are used to extrapolate waterbody statistics from the site level to regional landscape units. PeRL presents pond and lake estimates for a total area of 1. 4 × 106 km2 across the Arctic, about 17 % of the Arctic lowland ( <  300 m a.s.l.) land surface area. PeRL waterbodies with sizes of 1. 0 × 106 m2 down to 1. 0 × 102 m2 contributed up to 21 % to the total water fraction. Waterbody density ranged from 1. 0 × 10 to 9. 4 × 101 km−2. Ponds are the dominant waterbody type by number in all landscapes representing 45–99 % of the total waterbody number. The implementation of PeRL size distributions in land surface models will greatly improve the investigation and projection of surface inundation and carbon fluxes in permafrost lowlands. Waterbody maps, study area boundaries, and maps of regional permafrost landscapes including detailed metadata are available at

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DOI 10.5194/essd-9-317-2017

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Muster, S. , Roth, K. , Langer, M. , Lange, S. , Cresto Aleina, F. , Bartsch, A. , Morgenstern, A. , Grosse, G. , Jones, B. , Sannel, A. K. , Sjöberg, Y. , Günther, F. , Andresen, C. , Veremeeva, A. , Lindgren R., P. , Bouchard, F. , Lara, M. J. , Fortier, D. , Charbonneau, S. , Virtanen, T. A. , Hugelius, G. , Palmtag, J. , Siewert, M. B. , Riley, W. J. , Koven, C. D. and Boike, J. (2017): PeRL: a circum-Arctic Permafrost Region Pond and Lake database , Earth System Science Data, 9 , pp. 317-348 . doi: 10.5194/essd-9-317-2017

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