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Publication Date
28 October 2021

Climate Signatures on Lake And Wetland Size Distributions in Arctic Deltas



<p>Understanding how thermokarst lakes on arctic river deltas will respond to rapid warming is critical for projecting how carbon storage and fluxes will change in those vulnerable environments. Yet, this understanding is currently limited partly due to the complexity of disentangling significant interannual variability from the longer-term surface water signatures on the landscape, using the short summertime window of optical spaceborne observations. Here, we rigorously separate perennial lakes from ephemeral wetlands on 12 arctic deltas and report distinct size distributions and climate trends for the two waterbodies. Namely, we find a lognormal distribution for lakes and a power-law distribution for wetlands, consistent with a simple proportionate growth model and inundated topography, respectively. Furthermore, while no trend with temperature is found for wetlands, a statistically significant decreasing trend of mean lake size with warmer temperatures is found, attributed to colder deltas having deeper and thicker permafrost preserving larger lakes.</p>

Vulis, Lawrence, Alejandro Tejedor, Ilya Zaliapin, Joel Rowland, and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou. 2021. “Climate Signatures On Lake And Wetland Size Distributions In Arctic Deltas”. Geophysical Research Letters 48. doi:10.1029/2021GL094437.
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