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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2024
  2. Abstract Permafrost underlies approximately one quarter of Northern Hemisphere terrestrial surfaces and contains 25–50% of the global soil carbon (C) pool. Permafrost soils and the C stocks within are vulnerable to ongoing and future projected climate warming. The biogeography of microbial communities inhabiting permafrost has not been examined beyond a small number of sites focused on local-scale variation. Permafrost is different from other soils. Perennially frozen conditions in permafrost dictate that microbial communities do not turn over quickly, thus possibly providing strong linkages to past environments. Thus, the factors structuring the composition and function of microbial communities may differ from patterns observed in other terrestrial environments. Here, we analyzed 133 permafrost metagenomes from North America, Europe, and Asia. Permafrost biodiversity and taxonomic distribution varied in relation to pH, latitude and soil depth. The distribution of genes differed by latitude, soil depth, age, and pH. Genes that were the most highly variable across all sites were associated with energy metabolism and C-assimilation. Specifically, methanogenesis, fermentation, nitrate reduction, and replenishment of citric acid cycle intermediates. This suggests that adaptations to energy acquisition and substrate availability are among some of the strongest selective pressures shaping permafrost microbial communities. The spatial variation in metabolic potential has primed communities for specific biogeochemical processes as soils thaw due to climate change, which could cause regional- to global- scale variation in C and nitrogen processing and greenhouse gas emissions. 
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  3. Abstract

    Lakes set in arctic permafrost landscapes can be susceptible to rapid drainage and downstream flood generation. Of many thousands of lakes in northern Alaska, hundreds have been identified as having high drainage potential directly to river systems and 18 such drainage events have been documented since 1955. In 2018 we began monitoring a large lake with high drainage potential as part of a long‐term hydrological observation network designed to evaluate impacts of land use and climate change. In early June 2022, surface water was observed flowing over a 30‐m wide bluff, with active headward erosion of ice‐rich permafrost soils apparent by late June. This overflow point breached rapidly in early July, draining almost the entire lake within 12 h and generating a 191 m3/s flood to a downstream creek. Water level and turbidity sensors and time‐lapse cameras captured this rapid lake‐drainage event at high resolution. A wind‐driven surface seiche and warming waters following ice‐out helped trigger the initial thermomechanical breach. We estimate at least 600 MT of lake sediment was eroded, mobilized, and transported downstream. A flood wave peaking at 42 m3/s arrived 14 h after the initial breach at a river gauge 9‐km downstream. Comparing this event with three other quantified arctic lake‐drainage floods suggests that lake surface area coupled with drainage gradient height can predict outburst flood magnitude. Using this relationship we estimated future flood hazards from the 146 lakes in the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska (ACP) with high drainage potential, of which 20% are expected to generate outburst floods exceeding 100 m3/s to downstream rivers. This fortunate and detailed drainage‐event observation adds to a growing body of research on the impact of lakes on arctic hydrology, hazard forecasting in a region with an increasing human footprint, and broader processes of landscape evolution in arctic lowlands.

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    Abstract. The Pleistocene sand sea on the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) ofnorthern Alaska is underlain by an ancient sand dune field, a geologicalfeature that affects regional lake characteristics. Many of these lakes,which cover approximately 20 % of the Pleistocene sand sea, are relativelydeep (up to 25 m). In addition to the natural importance of ACP sand sealakes for water storage, energy balance, and ecological habitat, the needfor winter water for industrial development and exploration activities makeslakes in this region a valuable resource. However, ACP sand sea lakes havereceived little prior study. Here, we collect in situ bathymetric data totest 12 model variants for predicting sand sea lake depth based on analysisof Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) images. Lake depth gradients weremeasured at 17 lakes in midsummer 2017 using a Humminbird 798ci HD SI Comboautomatic sonar system. The field-measured data points were compared tored–green–blue (RGB) bands of a Landsat-8 OLI image acquired on 8 August2016 to select and calibrate the most accurate spectral-depth model for eachstudy lake and map bathymetry. Exponential functions using a simple bandratio (with bands selected based on lake turbidity and bed substrate)yielded the most successful model variants. For each lake, the most accuratemodel explained 81.8 % of the variation in depth, on average. Modeled lakebathymetries were integrated with remotely sensed lake surface area toquantify lake water storage volumes, which ranged from 1.056×10-3 to 57.416×10-3 km3. Due to variations in depthmaxima, substrate, and turbidity between lakes, a regional model iscurrently infeasible, rendering necessary the acquisition of additional insitu data with which to develop a regional model solution. Estimating lakewater volumes using remote sensing will facilitate better management ofexpanding development activities and serve as a baseline by which toevaluate future responses to ongoing and rapid climate change in the Arctic.All sonar depth data and modeled lake bathymetry rasters can be freelyaccessed at (Simpson and Arp, 2018) and (Simpson, 2019), respectively. 
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    Abstract. The formation, growth, and decay of freshwater ice on lakes andrivers are fundamental processes of northern regions with wide-rangingimplications for socio-ecological systems. Ice thickness at the end ofwinter is perhaps the best integration of cold-season weather and climate,while the duration of thick and growing ice cover is a useful indicator forthe winter travel and recreation season. Both maximum ice thickness (MIT)and ice travel duration (ITD) can be estimated from temperature-driven icegrowth curves fit to ice thickness observations. We simulated and analyzedice growth curves based on ice thickness data collected from a range ofobservation programs throughout Alaska spanning the past 20–60 years tounderstand patterns and trends in lake and river ice. Results suggestreductions in MIT (thinning) in several northern, interior, and coastalregions of Alaska and overall greater interannual variability in riverscompared to lakes. Interior regions generally showed less variability in MITand even slightly increasing trends in at least one river site. Average ITDranged from 214 d in the northernmost lakes to 114 d acrosssouthernmost lakes, with significant decreases in duration for half ofsites. River ITD showed low regional variability but high interannualvariability, underscoring the challenges with predictingseasonally consistent river travel. Standardization and analysis of theseice observation data provide a comprehensive summary for understandingchanges in winter climate and its impact on freshwater ice services. 
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  8. Abstract

    On the Arctic Coastal Plain (ACP) in northern Alaska (USA), permafrost and abundant surface‐water storage define watershed hydrological processes. In the last decades, the ACP landscape experienced extreme climate events and increased lake water withdrawal (LWW) for infrastructure construction, primarily ice roads and industrial operations. However, their potential (combined) effects on streamflow are relatively underexplored. Here, we applied the process‐based, spatially distributed hydrological and thermal Water Balance Simulation Model (10 m spatial resolution) to the 30 km2Crea Creek watershed located on the ACP. The impacts of documented seasonal climate extremes and LWW were evaluated on seasonal runoff (May–August), including minimum 7‐day mean flow (MQ7), the recovery time of MQ7 to pre‐perturbation conditions, and the duration of streamflow conditions that prevents fish passage. Low‐rainfall scenarios (21% of normal, one to three summers in a row) caused a larger reduction in MQ7 (−56% to −69%) than LWW alone (−44% to −58%). Decadal‐long consecutive LWW under average climate conditions resulted in a new equilibrium in low flow and seasonal runoff after 3 years that included a disconnected stream network, a reduced watershed contributing area (54% of total watershed area), and limited fish passage of 20 days (vs. 6 days under control conditions) throughout summer. Our results highlight that, even under current average climatic conditions, LWW is not offset by same‐year snowmelt as currently assumed in land management regulations. Effective land management would therefore benefit from considering the combined impact of climate change and industrial LWWs.

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  9. Abstract

    Arctic lakes store, modify, and transport large quantities of carbon from terrestrial environments to the atmosphere; however, the spatial and temporal relationships between quantity and composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) have not been well characterized across broad arctic regions. Moreover, most arctic lake DOM compositions have been examined during the ice‐free summer, whereas DOM cycling between the ice‐covered winter months and summer have not been addressed. To resolve these spatial and seasonal uncertainties in DOM cycling, we sampled a series of arctic lakes from the North Slope of Alaska across a latitudinal gradient in the winter and summer over 3 years. Samples were analyzed for dissolved organic carbon concentration and DOM composition was characterized using optical and fluorescence properties combined with molecular‐level analysis using Fourier transform‐ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. Tundra lake DOM properties including aromaticity and molecular stoichiometries were similar to other northern high‐latitude lakes, but optical parameters related to aromaticity and molecular weight were greater in major arctic rivers and in coastal lakes in the North Slope region. DOM composition was highly seasonal, with ice exclusion concentrating microbially processed DOM in the winter water columns, potentially influencing DOM cycling the following summer. However, the greatest variations in DOM composition were related to lake depth and likely other physical features including morphology and bathymetry. As the Arctic warms, we expect changes in hydrology and ice cover to enhance under‐ice microbial DOM processing, early summer photodegradation, and ultimately carbon fluxes to the atmosphere after ice‐out.

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