Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-207
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-207

  26 Aug 2021

26 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The importance of freeze/thaw cycles on lateral tracer transport in ice-wedge polygons

Elchin Jafarov1, Daniil Svyatsky2, Dylan Harp1, Brent Newman1, David Moulton2, and Cathy Wilson1 Elchin Jafarov et al.
  • 1Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
  • 2Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics Group, Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA

Abstract. A significant portion of the Arctic coastal plain is classified as polygonal tundra and plays a vital role in soil carbon cycling. Recent research suggests that lateral transport of dissolved carbon could exceed vertical carbon releases to the atmosphere. However, the details of lateral subsurface flow in polygonal tundra have not been well studied. We incorporated a subsurface transport process into an existing state-of-art hydrothermal model. The model captures the physical effects of freeze/thaw cycles on lateral flow in polygonal tundra. The new modeling capability enables non-reactive tracer movement within subsurface. We utilized this new capability to investigate the impact of freeze/thaw cycle on lateral flow in the polygon polygonal tundra. Our study indicates the important role of freeze/thaw cycle and freeze-up effect on lateral tracer transport, suggesting that dissolved species could be transported from the middle of the polygon to the sides within a couple of thaw seasons. Introducing carbon lateral transport in the climate models could substantially reduce the uncertainty associated with the impact of thawing permafrost.

Elchin Jafarov et al.

Status: open (until 24 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-207', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Sep 2021 reply

Elchin Jafarov et al.

Elchin Jafarov et al.

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Short summary
Recent research indicates the importance of the lateral transport of dissolved carbon in the polygonal tundra, suggesting that the freeze-up period could further promote lateral carbon transport. In this study, we conducted subsurface tracer simulations on high-, flat- and low-centered polygons to test the importance of the freeze/thaw cycle and freeze-up time on tracer mobility. Our findings suggest high mobility of the tracer in the polygonal tundra.