Abstract

Near-surface permafrost was sampled in summer 2010 at 26 sites in the Illisarvik drained-lake basin and nine sites in the surrounding tundra on Richards Island, NWT, to investigate the growth of segregated near-surface ground ice. Permafrost and ground ice have developed in the lake basin since drainage in 1978. The lake bed soils are predominantly silts of varying moisture and organic-matter contents, with sandier soils near the lake margins. Excess-ice contents in the basin were also variable, and ice enrichment was observed to a maximum depth of 60 cm below the 2010 permafrost table. Shrub-covered, wet areas had the highest mean excess-ice content in the top 50 cm of permafrost (10%), while grassy, dryer areas (4%) and poorly vegetated marginal areas (<1%) were less enriched with ice. Site wetness was the most important variable associated with near-surface excess-ice content in the lake basin. Silt content was a secondary variable. Mean excess-ice content in the top 50 cm of permafrost at tundra sites (25%) was much greater than in the basin, with ice enrichment to greater depths, likely a result of the time available for permafrost aggradation since the early Holocene climatic optimum.

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