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Title: From documentation to prediction: Raising the bar for thermokarst research

Here we report that to date the majority of published research on thermokarst has been directed at documenting its form, occurrence, and rates of occurrence. The fundamental processes driving thermokarst have long been largely understood. However, the detailed physical couplings between, water, air, soil, and the thermal dynamics governing freeze-thaw and soil mechanics is less understood and not captured in models aimed at predicting the response of frozen soils to warming and thaw. As computational resources increase more sophisticated mechanistic models can be applied; these show great promise as predictive tools. These models will be capable of simulating the response of soil deformation to thawing/freezing cycles and the long-term, non-recoverable response of the land surface to the loss of ice. At the same time, advances in remote sensing of permafrost environments also show promise in providing detailed and spatially extensive estimates in the rates and patterns of subsidence. These datasets provide key constraints to calibrate and evaluate the predictive power of mechanistic models. In conclusion, in the coming decade, these emerging technologies will greatly increase our ability to predict when, where, and how thermokarst will occur in a changing climate.
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1431-2174; PII: 1331
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396; ERKP757
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Hydrogeology Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 24; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1431-2174
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; subsidence; thermokarst; permafrost; geohazards
OSTI Identifier: