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Evolution of a high-mountain thermokarst lake in the Swiss Alps


Kääb, A; Haeberli, W (2001). Evolution of a high-mountain thermokarst lake in the Swiss Alps. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 33(4):385-390.

Abstract

Thermokarst lakes, a characteristic landscape element of the Arctic, are rarely found outside arctic situations. Here, a 30-yr photogrammetric monitoring series of a thermokarst lake in the Gruben area, Swiss Alps, is presented. The lake, situated in an environment of dead-ice remains and creeping permafrost, reached a final size of ca. 10,000 m² in area and 50,000 m³ in volume before it had to be drained artificially in 1995. Starting in the mid-1960s it grew with radial rates of ca. 1.5 to 5 m yr⁻¹. Nonlinear coupling of lake diameter and energy turnover led to accelerated area growth. The development of the lake was presumably driven by thermal convection of water. By a dynamic model of lake growth, we show that a change in climate conditions and/or the lake bottom topography could have significantly influenced the observed lake growth. The effective energy turnover used for ice-melt and subsequent lake growth was estimated to be in the order 10⁰ to 10¹ W m⁻².

Abstract

Thermokarst lakes, a characteristic landscape element of the Arctic, are rarely found outside arctic situations. Here, a 30-yr photogrammetric monitoring series of a thermokarst lake in the Gruben area, Swiss Alps, is presented. The lake, situated in an environment of dead-ice remains and creeping permafrost, reached a final size of ca. 10,000 m² in area and 50,000 m³ in volume before it had to be drained artificially in 1995. Starting in the mid-1960s it grew with radial rates of ca. 1.5 to 5 m yr⁻¹. Nonlinear coupling of lake diameter and energy turnover led to accelerated area growth. The development of the lake was presumably driven by thermal convection of water. By a dynamic model of lake growth, we show that a change in climate conditions and/or the lake bottom topography could have significantly influenced the observed lake growth. The effective energy turnover used for ice-melt and subsequent lake growth was estimated to be in the order 10⁰ to 10¹ W m⁻².

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2001
Deposited On:20 Jul 2012 22:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:53
Publisher:University of Colorado, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
ISSN:0003-0031

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