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Title: Understanding the relative importance of vertical and horizontal flow in ice-wedge polygons

Abstract

Ice-wedge polygons are common Arctic landforms. The future of these landforms in a warming climate depends on the bidirectional feedback between the rate of ice-wedge degradation and changes in hydrological characteristics. This work aims to better understand the relative roles of vertical and horizontal water fluxes in the subsurface of polygonal landscapes, providing new insights and data to test and calibrate hydrological models. Field-scale investigations were conducted at an intensively instrumented location on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) near Utqiagvik, AK, USA. Using a conservative tracer, we examined controls of microtopography and the frost table on subsurface flow and transport within a low-centered and a high-centered polygon. Bromide tracer was applied at both polygons in July 2015 and transport was monitored through two thaw seasons. Sampler arrays placed in polygon centers, rims, and troughs were used to monitor tracer concentrations. In both polygons, the tracer first infiltrated vertically until encountering the frost table and was then transported horizontally. Horizontal flow occurred in more locations and at higher velocities in the low-centered polygon than in the high-centered polygon. Preferential flow, influenced by frost table topography, was significant between polygon centers and troughs. Estimates of horizontal hydraulic conductivity were within the range ofmore » previous estimates of vertical conductivity, highlighting the importance of horizontal flow in these systems. This work forms a basis for understanding complexity of flow in polygonal landscapes.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [4];  [4];  [5]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States); New Mexico Inst. of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM (United States)
  2. New Mexico Inst. of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM (United States); Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States)
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  4. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  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), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1666002
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725; AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (Online); Journal Volume: 24; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1607-7938
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union (EGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Wales, Nathan A., Gomez-Velez, Jesus D., Newman, Brent D., Wilson, Cathy J., Dafflon, Baptiste, Kneafsey, Timothy J., Soom, Florian, and Wullschleger, Stan D. Understanding the relative importance of vertical and horizontal flow in ice-wedge polygons. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.5194/hess-24-1109-2020.
Wales, Nathan A., Gomez-Velez, Jesus D., Newman, Brent D., Wilson, Cathy J., Dafflon, Baptiste, Kneafsey, Timothy J., Soom, Florian, & Wullschleger, Stan D. Understanding the relative importance of vertical and horizontal flow in ice-wedge polygons. United States. doi:10.5194/hess-24-1109-2020.
Wales, Nathan A., Gomez-Velez, Jesus D., Newman, Brent D., Wilson, Cathy J., Dafflon, Baptiste, Kneafsey, Timothy J., Soom, Florian, and Wullschleger, Stan D. Tue . "Understanding the relative importance of vertical and horizontal flow in ice-wedge polygons". United States. doi:10.5194/hess-24-1109-2020. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1666002.
@article{osti_1666002,
title = {Understanding the relative importance of vertical and horizontal flow in ice-wedge polygons},
author = {Wales, Nathan A. and Gomez-Velez, Jesus D. and Newman, Brent D. and Wilson, Cathy J. and Dafflon, Baptiste and Kneafsey, Timothy J. and Soom, Florian and Wullschleger, Stan D.},
abstractNote = {Ice-wedge polygons are common Arctic landforms. The future of these landforms in a warming climate depends on the bidirectional feedback between the rate of ice-wedge degradation and changes in hydrological characteristics. This work aims to better understand the relative roles of vertical and horizontal water fluxes in the subsurface of polygonal landscapes, providing new insights and data to test and calibrate hydrological models. Field-scale investigations were conducted at an intensively instrumented location on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) near Utqiagvik, AK, USA. Using a conservative tracer, we examined controls of microtopography and the frost table on subsurface flow and transport within a low-centered and a high-centered polygon. Bromide tracer was applied at both polygons in July 2015 and transport was monitored through two thaw seasons. Sampler arrays placed in polygon centers, rims, and troughs were used to monitor tracer concentrations. In both polygons, the tracer first infiltrated vertically until encountering the frost table and was then transported horizontally. Horizontal flow occurred in more locations and at higher velocities in the low-centered polygon than in the high-centered polygon. Preferential flow, influenced by frost table topography, was significant between polygon centers and troughs. Estimates of horizontal hydraulic conductivity were within the range of previous estimates of vertical conductivity, highlighting the importance of horizontal flow in these systems. This work forms a basis for understanding complexity of flow in polygonal landscapes.},
doi = {10.5194/hess-24-1109-2020},
journal = {Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (Online)},
number = 3,
volume = 24,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {3}
}

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