Role of rainwater induced subsurface flow in water-level dynamics and thermoerosion of shallow thermokarst ponds on the Northeastern Qinghai–Tibet Plateau
X. Pan1,2, Q. Yu1, and Y. You11Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou, China 2Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada
Received: 25 Oct 2014 – Accepted for review: 24 Nov 2014 – Discussion started: 11 Dec 2014
Abstract. Understanding hydrological and thermal regimes of thermokarst lakes is of great importance for predicting their responses to climate change. However, mechanism of water-level dynamics and associated thermal effects on thermoerosion of thermokarst lakes are still not well understood on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP). In this study, we investigate two typical shallow thermokarst ponds (namely small lakes) in a warm permafrost region with thick active layer on the northeastern QTP through quantifying water budget. Results demonstrate that, rainfall induced subsurface lateral flow dominates pond water-level regime. Annual variation of pond water-level relies on areal water budget of surrounding active layer, particularly the high variable of precipitation. Besides, it is worth noting the extraordinary warming during the late ice-cover period, because marked air gap between upper ice-cover and underlying water, led by the upward thawing of thick ice-cover, might result in greenhouse-like condition due to the unique weather that strong solar radiation and little snowpack. This hydrological mechanism also exerts evident impacts on thermal regime and thermoerosion of the shallow thermokarst ponds, and they are closely related to retreat of thermokarst pondshore and underlying permafrost degradation. These findings imply a localized model addressing the unique hydrological and thermal regimes of thermokarst lakes would be essential to study the evolution of these shallow rainwater dominated thermokarst ponds on the QTP.
Pan, X., Yu, Q., and You, Y.: Role of rainwater induced subsurface flow in water-level dynamics and thermoerosion of shallow thermokarst ponds on the Northeastern Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 6117-6146, doi:10.5194/tcd-8-6117-2014, 2014.