Seasonal and Interannual Ground-Surface Displacement in Intact and Disturbed Tundra along the Dalton Highway on the North Slope, Alaska | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
January 2021
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© 2021 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Spatiotemporal variation in ground-surface displacement caused by ground freeze–thaw and thermokarst is critical information to understand changes in the permafrost ecosystem. Measurement of ground displacement, especially in the disturbed ground underlain by ice-rich permafrost, is important to estimate the rate of permafrost and carbon loss. We conducted high-precision global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning surveys to measure the surface displacements of tundra in northern Alaska, together with maximum thaw depth (TD) and surface moisture measurements from 2017 to 2019. The measurements were performed along two to three 60–200 m transects per site with 1–5 m intervals at the three areas. The average seasonal thaw settlement (STS) at intact tundra sites ranged 5.8–14.3 cm with a standard deviation range of 2.1–3.3 cm. At the disturbed locations, averages and variations in STS and the maximum thaw depth were largest in all observed years and among all sites. The largest seasonal and interannual subsidence (44 and 56 cm/year, respectively) were recorded at points near troughs of degraded ice-wedge polygons or thermokarst lakes. Weak or moderate correlation between STS and TD found at the intact sites became obscure as the thermokarst disturbance progressed, leading to higher uncertainty in the prediction of TD from STS.

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Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Iwahana, Go
Busey, Robert C.
Saito, Kazuyuki


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