Landscape-related ground ice variability on the Yukon coastal plain inferred from computed tomography and potential implications on lateral permafrost carbon release


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George.Tanski [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Warming in the Arctic causes strong environmental changes with permafrost degradation being among the most striking effects. Active layer deepening and permafrost erosion can result in the mobilization and lateral transport of organic carbon (OC), which potentially alters carbon cycles in the Arctic substantially. Although the understanding of ground ice contents and permafrost OC release is improving, still little is known of permafrost OC release rates, lateral transport pathways and its driving mechanisms on a landscape scale. In this study we investigate ground ice characteristics and OC composition of the most dominant landscape units of the Yukon coastal plain. In total, 12 permafrost cores were taken from moraine, lacustrine, fluvial and glaciofluvial deposits with a SIPRE corer. Ground ice and sediment contents were analysed using computed tomography and k-means classification. Active layer and upper permafrost were subsampled to analyse OC contents and isotopes of bulk material and a leaching-incubation experiment was conducted with active layer and permafrost sediments to assess potential dissolved OC export and degradation rates. Preliminary results show that ground ice contents vary significantly between landscape units. Ground ice contents in permafrost average 72.4 vol.-% with highest contents in moraines (78.3 vol.-%) and lowest contents in fluvial deposits (53.2 vol.-%). We expect highest dissolved OC leaching and loss rates from permafrost in contrast to active layer and from fluvial and lacustrine deposits, as they simply contain more OC. Yet, lateral OC transport is more likely for landscapes with a topographic gradient such as ground ice-rich moraines. We conclude that due to the high ground ice contents on the Yukon coastal plain, substantial changes of the permafrost landscape will occur under current warming trends. This will include subsidence, abrupt erosion, changes in hydrology and OC degradation processes, which will differ between landscape units.



Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Primary Division
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Research Networks
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Event Details
Arctic Change 2020, 07 Dec 2020 - 10 Dec 2020, Online.
Eprint ID
53651
Cite as
Tanski, G. , Pika, P. , Eisses, B. , Calmels, F. , Roy, L. P. , Speetjens, N. , Koch, B. , Knoblauch, C. , Bröder, L. , Lantuit, H. , Hugelius, G. , Wolter, J. , Richter, A. , Fortier, D. , Paquette, M. , Fritz, M. and Vonk, J. (2020): Landscape-related ground ice variability on the Yukon coastal plain inferred from computed tomography and potential implications on lateral permafrost carbon release , Arctic Change 2020, Online, 7 December 2020 - 10 December 2020 .


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