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Thaw dynamics of a rapidly degrading isolated permafrost plateau in south-central Alaska
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  • Joel Eklof,
  • Mark Waldrop,
  • Benjamin Jones,
  • Rebecca Neumann
Joel Eklof
University of Washington

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mark Waldrop
US Geological Survey
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Benjamin Jones
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
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Rebecca Neumann
University of Washington
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Northern high latitudes are projected to get warmer and wetter in the future which will affect rates of permafrost thaw and the mechanisms by which thaw occurs. To better understand these changing thaw dynamics, we instrumented an isolated permafrost plateau in south-central Alaska with climate conditions that currently mirror those expected in more northern permafrost regions in the future. Using preliminary 2019 measurements of temperature from the soil surface into permafrost, depth to frost table, water level, groundwater temperature, and meteorological variables, we tracked soil and permafrost warming throughout the season, and identified how environmental factors, such as water table elevation, microtopography, and warm rain events, affected rates of warming and thaw. Additionally, we present the extent of permafrost degradation since the last observations at this site in 2015. Permafrost thaw and resultant landscape change has a net warming effect on the climate. Understanding of the environmental factors that lead to thaw and rates at which permafrost will thaw under future climate conditions will allow for better preparation, modeling, and policy making for the future.