Abstract

Field studies carried out mainly since 1975 in permafrost areas of Alaska, Canada, China, and the Soviet Union have been combined with the results of laboratory investigations to show that in summer water can move from the thawing active layer into the subjacent frozen active layer and under certain conditions even into the top of permafrost. Direct field evidence discussed includes: data from drilling and neutron probe logging, which show a summer increase in the ice content of already frozen ground; summer heave of heavemeters, with heave occurring in the frozen active layer; and increase in the ice content of the subjacent frozen ground in both permafrost and non-permafrost areas, caused by snowmelt infiltration. Indirect field and laboratory evidence is also added to support the direct lines of evidence. The conditions that favor the downward migration of water from thawed to frozen ground are examined in terms of thermally induced hydraulic gradients, hydraulic conductivity, content of unfrozen pore water, temperature gradients, ice content, and gravity. Some geocryologic implications of the summer growth of ice in frozen ground, including the effects on water balance calculations and the origin of patterned ground, are briefly mentioned.

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