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Keywords:

  • ground-penetrating radar;
  • permafrost;
  • thaw bulb;
  • arctic streams

Abstract

Thaw depths beneath arctic streams may have significant impact on the seasonal development of hyporheic zone hydraulics. To investigate thaw progression over the 2004 summer season we acquired a series of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) profiles at five sites from May–September, using 100, 200 and 400 MHz antennas. We selected sites with the objective of including stream reaches that span a range of geomorphologic conditions on Alaska's North Slope. Thaw depths interpreted from GPR data were constrained by both recorded subsurface temperature profiles and by pressing a metal probe through the active layer to the point of refusal. We found that low-energy stream environments react much more slowly to seasonal solar input and maintain thaw thicknesses longer throughout the late season whereas thaw depths increase rapidly within high-energy streams at the beginning of the season and decrease over the late season period. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.