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Assessing volumetric change distributions and scaling relations of retrogressive thaw slumps across the Arctic

Bernhard, Philipp and Zwieback, Simon and Bergner, Nora and Hajnsek, Irena (2022) Assessing volumetric change distributions and scaling relations of retrogressive thaw slumps across the Arctic. The Cryosphere, 16 (1), pp. 1-15. Copernicus Publications. doi: 10.5194/tc-16-1-2022. ISSN 1994-0416.

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Official URL: https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/16/1/2022/


Arctic ice-rich permafrost is becoming increasingly vulnerable to terrain-altering thermokarst, and among the most rapid and dramatic of these changes are retrogressive thaw slumps (RTSs). They initiate when ice-rich soils are exposed and thaw, leading to the formation of a steep headwall which retreats during the summer months. The impacts and the distribution and scaling laws governing RTS changes within and between regions are unknown. Using TanDEM-X-derived digital elevation models, we estimated RTS volume and area changes over a 5-year time period from winter 2011/12 to winter 2016/17 and used for the first time probability density functions to describe their distributions. We found that over this time period all 1853 RTSs mobilized a combined volume of 17×106 m3 yr−1, corresponding to a volumetric change density of 77 m3 yr−1 km−2. Our remote sensing data reveal inter-regional differences in mobilized volumes, scaling laws, and terrain controls. The distributions of RTS area and volumetric change rates follow an inverse gamma function with a distinct peak and an exponential decrease for the largest RTSs. We found that the distributions in the high Arctic are shifted towards larger values than at other study sites We observed that the area-to-volume scaling was well described by a power law with an exponent of 1.15 across all study sites; however the individual sites had scaling exponents ranging from 1.05 to 1.37, indicating that regional characteristics need to be taken into account when estimating RTS volumetric changes from area changes. Among the terrain controls on RTS distributions that we examined, which included slope, adjacency to waterbodies, and aspect, the latter showed the greatest but regionally variable association with RTS occurrence. Accounting for the observed regional differences in volumetric change distributions, scaling relations, and terrain controls may enhance the modelling and monitoring of Arctic carbon, nutrient, and sediment cycles.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/148245/
Document Type:Article
Title:Assessing volumetric change distributions and scaling relations of retrogressive thaw slumps across the Arctic
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Zwieback, SimonUniversity of Alaska FairbanksUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:3 January 2022
Journal or Publication Title:The Cryosphere
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 1-15
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
Series Name:The Cryosphere
Keywords:TanDEM-X, derived digital elevation models, volumetric change distributions, scaling relations, retrogressive thaw slumps
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Security-relevant Earth Observation
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Microwaves and Radar Institute > Radar Concepts
Deposited By: Radzuweit, Sibylle
Deposited On:17 Jan 2022 09:04
Last Modified:09 Feb 2022 06:05

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