Development of two landscape-scale arctic observatories in northern Alaska

guido.grosse [ at ]


Lake-rich arctic lowland landscapes are particularly sensitive to changes occurring in both summer and winter climate. In northern Alaska, lakes may account for more than 20% of the land surface cover and thus factor prominently in the arctic system. However, long-term, integrated observations from lake-rich arctic landscapes are relatively sparse. During the past decade, we have developed two new landscape-scale arctic observatories in northern Alaska – the Teshekpuk Lake Observatory (TLO) and the Fish Creek Watershed Observatory (FCWO) to help fill critical data gaps associated with these prominent components of the arctic system. The TLO focuses on the largest arctic lake in Alaska and the ice-rich permafrost terrain between it and the Beaufort Sea coast to the north. The FCWO focuses on a 4,500 sq. km. watershed where lakes occupy 19% of the surface cover. Combined, the TLO and FCWO capture the diverse mosaic of terrain units and aquatic habitats that occur on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska including deep dune trough lakes, shallow thermokarst lakes, drained thermokarst lake basins, thermokarst pits, beaded streams, both sand and gravel bedded rivers, rapidly eroding coastlines, and deltaic habitats. The TLO and FCWO are also ideal locations for long-term observations as these landscapes are responding rapidly to climate change and are also subject to land use changes associated with petroleum development. Here we provide an overview of the research infrastructure available at the TLO and FCWO and present data and findings from sensor networks, field studies, remotely sensed image analysis, models, limnological surveys, and paleoecological analyses. Ongoing projects at both observatories include establishment of automated and near-real time data transmission stations, detailed field studies, analysis of remotely sensed datasets to quantify regional landscape changes, climatic and hydrologic modeling, and analysis of paleoecological archives that will help place some of the recent observed changes into a longer-term context. The establishment of the Teshekpuk Lake Observatory and the Fish Creek Watershed Observatory will provide much needed information on the potential future status of these dynamic and sensitive arctic landscapes.

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Conference (Poster)
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AGU Fall Meeting, 12 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016, San Francisco, USA.
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Jones, B. M. , Arp, C. D. , Whitman, M. S. and Grosse, G. (2016): Development of two landscape-scale arctic observatories in northern Alaska , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12 December 2016 - 16 December 2016 .

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