Received: 26 Mar 2014 – Discussion started: 10 Jul 2014
Abstract. Thaw lakes and drained lake basins are a dominant feature of Arctic lowlands. Thaw lakes are a source of the greenhouse gas methane (CH4), which is produced under anaerobic conditions, while drained lake basins are carbon sinks due to sedimentation. Besides feedbacks on climate, the development of thaw lakes due to the melt-out of ground ice and subsequent ground subsidence, can have significant impacts on the regional morphology, hydrology, geophysics and biogehemistry.
Permafrost degradation as a result of climate warming, which is proceeding considerably faster in high latitude regions than the global average, could lead to either an increases in lake area due to lake expansion, or decrease due to lake drainage. However, which process will dominate is elusive. Therefore understanding thaw lake dynamics and quantifying the feedbacks related to thaw lake expansion and contraction are urgent questions to solve.
We apply a stochastic model, THAWLAKE, on four representative Arctic sites, to reproduce recent lake dynamics (1963–2012) and predict for the future changes under various anticipated climate scenarios. The model simulations of current thaw lake cycles and expansion rates are comparable with data. Future lake expansions are limited by lake drainage. We suggest further improvements in the area of enhancing the hydrology component, and operation on larger scales to gauge the impacts on lacustrine morphology and greenhouse gas emissions.
How to cite. Mi, Y., van Huissteden, J., and Dolman, A. J.: Modelled present and future thaw lake area expansion/contraction trends throughout the continuous permafrost zone, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 3603–3627, https://doi.org/10.5194/tcd-8-3603-2014, 2014.