Identifying historical and future potential lake drainage events on the western Arctic coastal plain of Alaska.

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Arctic lakes located in permafrost regions are susceptible to catastrophic drainage. In this study, we reconstructed historical lake drainage events on the western Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska between 1955 and 2017 using USGS topographic maps, historical aerial photography (1955), and Landsat Imagery (ca. 1975, ca. 2000, and annually since 2000). We identified 98 lakes larger than 10 ha that partially (>25% of area) or completely drained during the 62-year period. Decadal-scale lake drainage rates progressively declined from 2.0 lakes/yr (1955-1975), to 1.6 lakes/yr (1975-2000), and to 1.2 lakes/yr (2000-2017) in the ~30,000-km

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Permafrost and Periglacial Processes