Controls on recent Alaskan lake changes identified from water isotopes and remote sensing

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



High-latitude lakes are important for terrestrial carbon dynamics and waterfowl habitat driving a need to better understand controls on lake area changes. To identify the existence and cause of recent lake area changes in the Yukon Flats, a region of discontinuous permafrost in north central Alaska, we evaluate remotely sensed imagery with lake water isotope compositions and hydroclimatic parameters. Isotope compositions indicate that mixtures of precipitation, river water, and groundwater source ~95% of the studied lakes. The remaining minority are more dominantly sourced by snowmelt and/or permafrost thaw. Isotope-based water balance estimates indicate 58% of lakes lose more than half of inflow by evaporation. For 26% of the lakes studied, evaporative losses exceeded supply. Surface area trend analysis indicates that most lakes were near their maximum extent in the early 1980s during a relatively cool and wet period. Subsequent reductions can be explained by moisture deficits and greater evaporation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Controls on recent Alaskan lake changes identified from water isotopes and remote sensing
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/grl.50672
Volume 40
Issue 13
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 6 p.
First page 3413
Last page 3418
Country United States
State Alaska
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