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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-29
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Feb 2018

Research article | 13 Feb 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

An Estimate of Ice Wedge Volume for a High Arctic Polar Desert Environment, Fosheim Peninsula, Ellesmere Island

Claire Bernard-Grand'Maison1 and Wayne Pollard2 Claire Bernard-Grand'Maison and Wayne Pollard
  • 1Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, K1N 6N5, Canada
  • 2Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, H3A 0G4, Canada

Abstract. Quantifying ground ice volume on a regional scale is necessary to assess the vulnerability of permafrost landscapes to thaw induced disturbance like terrain subsidence and to quantify potential carbon release. Ice wedges (IWs) are a ubiquitous ground ice landform in the Arctic. Their high spatial variability makes generalizing their potential role in landscape change problematic. IWs form polygonal networks visible on satellite imagery from active layer surface troughs. This study focuses on the estimation of IW ice volume for the Fosheim Peninsula, Ellesmere Island, a continuous permafrost area characterized by polar desert conditions and extensive ground ice. We perform basic GIS analyses on high resolution satellite imagery to delineate IW troughs and estimate the associated IW ice volume using a 3D subsurface model. We demonstrate two semi-automated IW trough delineation methods with different strengths to increase time-efficiency of this process, done manually in previous studies. Our methods yield acceptable IW ice volume estimates validating the value of GIS to estimate IW volume on much larger scales. We estimate that IWs are potentially present on 50% of the Fosheim Peninsula (±3000km2) where 3.81% of the top 5.9m of permafrost could be IW ice.

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Claire Bernard-Grand'Maison and Wayne Pollard
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Claire Bernard-Grand'Maison and Wayne Pollard
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Short summary
This study presents an estimation of the volume of ice in ice wedges, a ground ice feature in permafrost, for a High Arctic polar desert region. We demonstrate that Geographical Information Systems analyses can be used on satellite images to obtain first approximations of ice wedge ice volume. We estimate that 3.81 % of the top 5.9 m of permafrost could be ice wedge ice on the Fosheim Peninsula. In response to climate change, melting ice wedges will result in widespread terrain disturbance.
This study presents an estimation of the volume of ice in ice wedges, a ground ice feature in...
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