University of Cincinnati researchers track climate changes in Arctic thaw lakes

ic Coastal Plain, and their drained basins cover an even greater area. Little is known about them. "It is not even known exactly how much of the landscape is composed of drained thaw lake basins," says Eisner. "Until now, no systematic examination of drained thaw-lake basins has been undertaken across the Arctic Coastal Plain."

Eisner and Hinkel, working with UC graduate student Liz Wolfe, in the first phase of their studies have found promising results using satellite imaging and ground penetrating radar to recognize and categorize the thaw lake basins. They have radiocarbon dated more than 30 basins in order to determine the age of the basins and verify that their classification scheme is correct. The oldest of the basins they examined dates back 5,000 years, while the youngest was 20-30 years old. They're also using satellite imaging to recognize and categorize thaw lake basins, with the help of geography department colleague Robert Frohn, a satellite imaging expert.

To get to this point, they first had to do legwork out on the tundra, verifying that the satellite images and ground-penetrating radar were giving them accurate information. They have trudged through rain, cold, snow, mud and water in two to three field trips per year in 2000 and 2001. In April 2001, the team drilled core samples using an 800-pound drill called a "Big Beaver." Samples taken earlier reached only to 18 inches, while the new mechanical drill reached several feet down to soil that is thousands of years old.


Contact: Wendy Eisner
University of Cincinnati

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