The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 1495-1545, 2011
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC.
Spatial analyses of thermokarst lakes and basins in Yedoma landscapes of the Lena Delta
A. Morgenstern1, G. Grosse2, F. Günther1, I. Fedorova3, and L. Schirrmeister1
1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 903 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320, USA
3Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Otto Schmidt Laboratory for Polar and Marine Research, Beringa st. 38, 199397 St. Petersburg, Russia

Abstract. Distinctive periglacial landscapes have formed in late-Pleistocene ice-rich permafrost deposits (Ice Complex) of Northern Yakutia, Siberia. Thermokarst lakes and thermokarst basins alternate with ice-rich Yedoma uplands. We investigate different thermokarst stages in Ice Complex deposits of the Lena River Delta using remote sensing and geoinformation techniques. The morphometry and spatial distribution of thermokarst lakes on Yedoma uplands, thermokarst lakes in basins, and thermokarst basins are analyzed, and possible dependence upon relief position and cryolithological context is considered. Of these thermokarst stages, developing thermokarst lakes on Yedoma uplands alter ice-rich permafrost the most, but occupy only 2.2 % of the study area compared to 20.0 % occupied by thermokarst basins. The future potential for developing large areas of thermokarst on Yedoma uplands is limited due to shrinking distances to degradational features and delta channels that foster lake drainage. Further thermokarst development in existing basins is restricted to underlying deposits that have already undergone thaw, compaction, and old carbon mobilization, and to deposits formed after initial lake drainage. Therefore, a distinction between developmental stages of thermokarst and landscape units is necessary to assess the potential for future permafrost degradation and carbon release due to thermokarst in Siberian Yedoma landscapes.

Citation: Morgenstern, A., Grosse, G., Günther, F., Fedorova, I., and Schirrmeister, L.: Spatial analyses of thermokarst lakes and basins in Yedoma landscapes of the Lena Delta, The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 1495-1545, doi:10.5194/tcd-5-1495-2011, 2011.
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