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Accelerated thermokarst formation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Levy, Joseph S. and Fountain, Andrew G. and Dickson, James L. and Head, James W. and Okal, Marianne and Marchant, David R. and Watters, Jaclyn (2013) Accelerated thermokarst formation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Scientific Reports, 3 . Art. No. 2269. ISSN 2045-2322. PMCID PMC3721085. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20161130-142502164

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Abstract

Thermokarst is a land surface lowered and disrupted by melting ground ice. Thermokarst is a major driver of landscape change in the Arctic, but has been considered to be a minor process in Antarctica. Here, we use ground-based and airborne LiDAR coupled with timelapse imaging and meteorological data to show that 1) thermokarst formation has accelerated in Garwood Valley, Antarctica; 2) the rate of thermokarst erosion is presently ~ 10 times the average Holocene rate; and 3) the increased rate of thermokarst formation is driven most strongly by increasing insolation and sediment/albedo feedbacks. This suggests that sediment enhancement of insolation-driven melting may act similarly to expected increases in Antarctic air temperature (presently occurring along the Antarctic Peninsula), and may serve as a leading indicator of imminent landscape change in Antarctica that will generate thermokarst landforms similar to those in Arctic periglacial terrains.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep02269DOIArticle
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3721085/PubMed CentralArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Head, James W.0000-0003-2013-560X
Additional Information:© 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/. Received: 11 April 2013; Accepted: 01 July 2013; Published online: 24 July 2013. This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Earth Sciences program under award ANT-1343835 to Levy, Fountain, and W. B. Lyons. Many thanks go to the extensive team that made this research possible, notably, to Dustin Black for bringing the Garwood Valley ice cliff to the attention of the research team, and to all the PHI pilots and ground staff for providing reliable and safe access to the site; to Thomas Nylen, Hasan Basagic, Rickard Pettersson, and James Jerome Bethune for field assistance; to Deb Leslie for stable isotope analyses of ice samples; to the Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Laboratory for radiocarbon dating services; and to Paul Morin and the Polar Geospatial Center for access to satellite image data. Airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) topography used in this paper was kindly made possible through a joint effort from the NSF, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Geological survey, with basic post-processing from the Byrd Polar Research Center. Ground based LiDAR was collected by UNAVCO. This manuscript has benefited from thoughtful reviews from two anonymous reviewers. Author Contributions: J.L. conducted fieldwork, LiDAR and continuous station data analysis, and contributed text for the manuscript. A.F. conducted the static station monitoring experiment and contributed manuscript text. J.D. and J.H. provided the time lapse data analysis and contributed manuscript text. M.O. contributed the LiDAR data collection and analysis and contributed manuscript text. D.M. contributed text to the manuscript. J.W. conducted time lapse data analysis and contributed figures to the supplementary material. All authors reviewed the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFANT-1343835
PubMed Central ID:PMC3721085
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161130-142502164
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20161130-142502164
Official Citation:Accelerated thermokarst formation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica Joseph S. Levy, Andrew G. Fountain, James L. Dickson, James W. Head, Marianne Okal, David R. Marchant & Jaclyn Watters Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 2269 (2013) doi:10.1038/srep02269
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72463
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Nov 2016 22:39
Last Modified:06 Jul 2020 21:56

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