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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-125
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-125
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 02 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Observation-derived ice growth curves show patterns and trends in maximum ice thickness and safe travel duration of Alaskan lakes and rivers

Christopher D. Arp1, Jessica E. Cherry1,2, Dana R.N. Brown3, Allen C. Bondurant1, and Karen L. Endres4 Christopher D. Arp et al.
  • 1Water and Environmental Research Center, Unversity of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
  • 2Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center, National Weather Service, Anchorage, AK 99502, USA
  • 3Institute of Arctic Biology, Unversity of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
  • 4Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center, National Weather Service, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA

Abstract. The formation, growth, and decay of freshwater ice on lakes and rivers are fundamental processes of northern regions with wide ranging implications for socio-ecological systems. Ice thickness at the end of winter is perhaps the best integration of cold-season weather and climate, while the duration of thick and growing ice cover is a useful indicator for the winter travel and recreation season. Both maximum ice thickness (MIT) and ice travel duration (ITD) can be estimated from temperature-driven ice growth curves fit to ice thickness observations. We simulated and analyzed ice growth curves based on ice thickness data collected from a range of observation programs throughout Alaska spanning the past 20–60 years to understand patterns and trends in lake and river ice. Results suggest reductions in MIT (thinning) in several northern, interior, and coastal regions of Alaska and overall greater interannual variability in rivers compared to lakes. Interior regions generally showed less variability in MIT and even slightly increasing trends in at least one river site. Average ITD ranged from 214 days in the northern-most lakes to 114 days across southern-most lakes with significant decreases in duration for half of sites. River ITD showed low regional variability, but high interannual variability, underscoring the challenges with predicting seasonally-consistent river travel. Standardization and analysis of these ice observation data provide a comprehensive summary for understanding changes in winter climate and its impact on freshwater ice services.

Christopher D. Arp et al.

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Christopher D. Arp et al.

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Short summary
River and lake ice thickens at varying rates geographically and from year to year. We took a closer look at ice growth across a large geographic region experience rapid climate change, the State of Alaska, USA. Slower ice growth was most pronounced in northern Alaskan lakes over the last 60 years. Western and interior Alaska ice showed more variability in thickness and safe travel duration. This analysis provides comprehensive evaluation of changing freshwater ice in Alaska.
River and lake ice thickens at varying rates geographically and from year to year. We took a...
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