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Title: Investigation of soil and vegetation characteristics in discontinuous permafrost landscapes near Fairbanks, Alaska
Authors: ERDC Center-Directed Research Program (U.S.)
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)
Berkowitz, Jacob F.
Hiemstra, Christopher A.
Douglas, Thomas A.
Keywords: Active-layer depth
Discontinuous permafrost
Ground-ice features
Interior Alaska
Permafrost stability
Soil nutrients
Issue Date: Aug-2015
Publisher: Environmental Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Series/Report no.: ERDC TR ; 15-7.
Description: Technical Report
Abstract: Alaska contains large areas of discontinuous permafrost, yet few studies examine the impact of microtopography on ground conditions and permafrost stability. This report uses vegetation and soil measurements to identify statistically significant differences to potentially classify permafrost ground-state conditions. The study identified significant relationships between soil parameters and vegetative community structure, including thicker peat layers in high microtopographic positions, greater active-layer thaw depths in high microtopographic positions, increased redox potentials in elevated microtopographic positions, and decreased soil moisture in higher topographic locations. Additionally, soil carbon and nitrogen concentrations increased in low microtopographic positions. These results suggest that soil and vegetation conditions may provide useful proxy measures in identifying permafrost and ground-ice features when incorporated into an integrated approach that combines belowground geophysics with aboveground remotely sensed terrain characteristics. Additional research is needed to combine soil and vegetation characteristics with suborbital and satellite-based remotely sensed measurements, such as airborne LiDAR, spectral reflectance, and high-resolution ground-level subsidence measurements.
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