Spatio-temporal analysis of gyres in oriented lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska based on remotely sensed images

Remote Sensing
By: , and 

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Abstract

The formation of oriented thermokarst lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska has been the subject of debate for more than half a century. The striking elongation of the lakes perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction has led to the development of a preferred wind-generated gyre hypothesis, while other hypotheses include a combination of sun angle, topographic aspect, and/or antecedent conditions. A spatio-temporal analysis of oriented thermokarst lake gyres with recent (Landsat 8) and historical (Landsat 4, 5, 7 and ASTER) satellite imagery of the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska indicates that wind-generated gyres are both frequent and regionally extensive. Gyres are most common in lakes located near the Arctic coast after several days of sustained winds from a single direction, typically the northeast, and decrease in number landward with decreasing wind energy. This analysis indicates that the conditions necessary for the Carson and Hussey (1962) wind-generated gyre for oriented thermokarst lake formation are common temporally and regionally and correspond spatially with the geographic distribution of oriented lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Given an increase in the ice-free season for lakes as well as strengthening of the wind regime, the frequency and distribution of lake gyres may increase. This increase has implications for changes in northern high latitude aquatic ecosystems, particularly if wind-generated gyres promote permafrost degradation and thermokarst lake expansion.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatio-temporal analysis of gyres in oriented lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska based on remotely sensed images
Series title Remote Sensing
DOI 10.3390/rs6109170
Volume 6
Issue 10
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher MDPI AG
Publisher location Basel, Switzerland
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Geography
Description 24 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Remote Sensing
First page 9170
Last page 9193
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Arctic Coastal Plain