Abstract

Active-layer thickness, snow depth, minimum soil temperatures, near-surface ground ice, soil heave, and permafrost temperatures have been measured for over 20 years following the 1978 artificial drainage of Lake Illisarvik. Measurements of active-layer thickness and other variables have been made at 25-m intervals along the major and minor axes of the oval-shaped drained-lake bed. Permafrost aggradation commenced in the lake bottom during the first winter following drainage. Before the establishment of vegetation, there was little snow cover, minimum ground temperatures were low, and the active layer was relatively thin. However, both snow depth and minimum ground temperatures have risen where vegetation has grown, the active layer has thickened, and in response, the temperature in permafrost has gradually increased. In the lake bottom, the change in snow depth associated with vegetation growth has been the dominant control on variation in active-layer thickness and not summer weather conditions, which are well correlated with thaw depths along an active-layer course established in the adjacent tundra. Changes in elevation of the surface of the lake bed have been measured with respect to some 40 bench marks anchored in permafrost, and indicate vertical movements of the surface associated with frost heave, thaw subsidence, and the growth of aggradational ice. The ground ice content of near-surface permafrost determined by drilling is in close agreement with the measured uplift of the lake bed. The rate of growth of aggradational ice has been ∼0.5 cm a–1 over 20 years.

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