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Climate signatures on lake and wetland size distributions in arctic deltas
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  • Lawrence Vulis,
  • Alejandro Tejedor,
  • Ilya Zaliapin,
  • Joel Carey Rowland,
  • Efi Foufoula-Georgiou
Lawrence Vulis
University of California, Irvine

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Alejandro Tejedor
Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi
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Ilya Zaliapin
University of Nevada Reno
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Joel Carey Rowland
Los Alamos National Laboratory (DOE)
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Efi Foufoula-Georgiou
University of California, Irvine
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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 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 fractal 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.
28 Oct 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 20. 10.1029/2021GL094437