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Title: Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development

Abstract

Fire-induced permafrost degradation is well documented in boreal forests, but the role of fires in initiating thermokarst development in Arctic tundra is less well understood. Here we show that Arctic tundra fires may induce widespread thaw subsidence of permafrost terrain in the first seven years following the disturbance. Quantitative analysis of airborne LiDAR data acquired two and seven years post-fire, detected permafrost thaw subsidence across 34% of the burned tundra area studied, compared to less than 1% in similar undisturbed, ice-rich tundra terrain units. The variability in thermokarst development appears to be influenced by the interaction of tundra fire burn severity and near-surface, ground-ice content. Subsidence was greatest in severely burned, ice-rich upland terrain (yedoma), accounting for -50% of the detected subsidence, despite representing only 30% of the fire disturbed study area. Microtopography increased by 340% in this terrain unit as a result of ice wedge degradation. Increases in the frequency, magnitude, and severity of tundra fires will contribute to future thermokarst development and associated landscape change in Arctic tundra regions.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [2]
  1. United States Geological Survey (USGS), Anchorage, AK (United States). Alaska Science Center
  2. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
  3. Bureau of Land Management Alaska, Anchorage, AK (United States)
  4. Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Hong Kong (China)
  5. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1335327
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Jones, Benjamin M., Grosse, Guido, Arp, Christopher D., Miller, Eric, Liu, Lin, Hayes, Daniel J., and Larsen, Christopher F. Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1038/srep15865.
Jones, Benjamin M., Grosse, Guido, Arp, Christopher D., Miller, Eric, Liu, Lin, Hayes, Daniel J., & Larsen, Christopher F. Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development. United States. doi:10.1038/srep15865.
Jones, Benjamin M., Grosse, Guido, Arp, Christopher D., Miller, Eric, Liu, Lin, Hayes, Daniel J., and Larsen, Christopher F. Thu . "Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development". United States. doi:10.1038/srep15865. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1335327.
@article{osti_1335327,
title = {Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development},
author = {Jones, Benjamin M. and Grosse, Guido and Arp, Christopher D. and Miller, Eric and Liu, Lin and Hayes, Daniel J. and Larsen, Christopher F.},
abstractNote = {Fire-induced permafrost degradation is well documented in boreal forests, but the role of fires in initiating thermokarst development in Arctic tundra is less well understood. Here we show that Arctic tundra fires may induce widespread thaw subsidence of permafrost terrain in the first seven years following the disturbance. Quantitative analysis of airborne LiDAR data acquired two and seven years post-fire, detected permafrost thaw subsidence across 34% of the burned tundra area studied, compared to less than 1% in similar undisturbed, ice-rich tundra terrain units. The variability in thermokarst development appears to be influenced by the interaction of tundra fire burn severity and near-surface, ground-ice content. Subsidence was greatest in severely burned, ice-rich upland terrain (yedoma), accounting for -50% of the detected subsidence, despite representing only 30% of the fire disturbed study area. Microtopography increased by 340% in this terrain unit as a result of ice wedge degradation. Increases in the frequency, magnitude, and severity of tundra fires will contribute to future thermokarst development and associated landscape change in Arctic tundra regions.},
doi = {10.1038/srep15865},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = ,
volume = 5,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {10}
}

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Cited by: 13 works
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