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Title: Permafrost Degradation and Subsidence Observations during a Controlled Warming Experiment

Abstract

Global climate change has resulted in a warmer Arctic, with projections indicating accelerated modifications to permafrost in the near future. The thermal, hydrological, and mechanical physics of permafrost thaw have been hypothesized to couple in a complex fashion but data collection efforts to study these feedbacks in the field have been limited. As a result, laboratory and numerical models have largely outpaced field calibration datasets. We present the design, execution, and initial results from the first decameter-scale controlled thawing experiment, targeting coupled thermal/mechanical response, particularly the temporal sequence of surface subsidence relative to permafrost degradation at depth. The warming test was conducted in Fairbanks, AK, and utilized an array of in-ground heaters to induce thaw of a ~11 × 13 × 1.5 m soil volume over 63 days. The 4-D temperature evolution demonstrated that the depth to permafrost lowered 1 m during the experiment. The resulting thaw-induced surface deformation was ~10 cm as observed using a combination of measurement techniques. Surface deformation occurred over a smaller spatial domain than the full thawed volume, suggesting that gradients in cryotexture and ice content were significant. Our experiment provides the first large field calibration dataset for multiphysics thaw models.

Authors:
 [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [1];  [1];  [4];  [3];  [3];  [3];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (CRREL), Fairbanks, AK (United States)
  2. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Earth and Planetary Sciences Dept.; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  4. U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (CRREL), Hanover, NH (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (CRREL), Fairbanks, AK (United States); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; USDOD; National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1477422
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231; RC-2437; DGE 1106400
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; civil engineering; cryospheric science; environmental health; environmental impact

Citation Formats

Wagner, Anna M., Lindsey, Nathaniel J., Dou, Shan, Gelvin, Arthur, Saari, Stephanie, Williams, Christopher, Ekblaw, Ian, Ulrich, Craig, Borglin, Sharon, Morales, Alejandro, and Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan. Permafrost Degradation and Subsidence Observations during a Controlled Warming Experiment. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-29292-y.
Wagner, Anna M., Lindsey, Nathaniel J., Dou, Shan, Gelvin, Arthur, Saari, Stephanie, Williams, Christopher, Ekblaw, Ian, Ulrich, Craig, Borglin, Sharon, Morales, Alejandro, & Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan. Permafrost Degradation and Subsidence Observations during a Controlled Warming Experiment. United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-29292-y.
Wagner, Anna M., Lindsey, Nathaniel J., Dou, Shan, Gelvin, Arthur, Saari, Stephanie, Williams, Christopher, Ekblaw, Ian, Ulrich, Craig, Borglin, Sharon, Morales, Alejandro, and Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan. Thu . "Permafrost Degradation and Subsidence Observations during a Controlled Warming Experiment". United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-29292-y. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1477422.
@article{osti_1477422,
title = {Permafrost Degradation and Subsidence Observations during a Controlled Warming Experiment},
author = {Wagner, Anna M. and Lindsey, Nathaniel J. and Dou, Shan and Gelvin, Arthur and Saari, Stephanie and Williams, Christopher and Ekblaw, Ian and Ulrich, Craig and Borglin, Sharon and Morales, Alejandro and Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan},
abstractNote = {Global climate change has resulted in a warmer Arctic, with projections indicating accelerated modifications to permafrost in the near future. The thermal, hydrological, and mechanical physics of permafrost thaw have been hypothesized to couple in a complex fashion but data collection efforts to study these feedbacks in the field have been limited. As a result, laboratory and numerical models have largely outpaced field calibration datasets. We present the design, execution, and initial results from the first decameter-scale controlled thawing experiment, targeting coupled thermal/mechanical response, particularly the temporal sequence of surface subsidence relative to permafrost degradation at depth. The warming test was conducted in Fairbanks, AK, and utilized an array of in-ground heaters to induce thaw of a ~11 × 13 × 1.5 m soil volume over 63 days. The 4-D temperature evolution demonstrated that the depth to permafrost lowered 1 m during the experiment. The resulting thaw-induced surface deformation was ~10 cm as observed using a combination of measurement techniques. Surface deformation occurred over a smaller spatial domain than the full thawed volume, suggesting that gradients in cryotexture and ice content were significant. Our experiment provides the first large field calibration dataset for multiphysics thaw models.},
doi = {10.1038/s41598-018-29292-y},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = ,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}

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