12 Sep 2022
12 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

High-resolution predictions of ground ice content for the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region

Olli Karjalainen1, Juha Aalto2,3, Mikhail Z. Kanevskiy4, Miska Luoto2, and Jan Hjort1 Olli Karjalainen et al.
  • 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
  • 2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Institute of Northern Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks 99775-5910, Alaska, U.S.A.

Abstract. Ground ice content of the Arctic soils largely dictates the effects of climate change-induced permafrost degradation and top ground destabilization. The current circumarctic information on ground ice content is overly coarse for many key applications, including assessments of hazards to Arctic infrastructure, while detailed data are restricted to very few regions. This study aims to address these gaps by presenting spatially comprehensive data on pore and segregated ground ice content across the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region at a 1-km resolution. First, ground ice content datasets (n=437 and 380 1-km grid cells for volumetric and gravimetric ice content, respectively) were compiled from field observations over the permafrost region. Spatial estimates of ground ice content in the near-surface permafrost north of the 30th parallel north were then produced by relating observed ground ice content to physically relevant environmental data layers of climate, soil, topography, and vegetation properties using a statistical modelling framework. The produced data show that ground ice content varies substantially across the permafrost region. The highest ice contents are found on peat-dominated Arctic lowlands and along major river basins. Low ice contents are associated with mountainous areas and many sporadic and isolated permafrost regions. The modelling yields relatively small prediction errors (a mean absolute error of 13.6 % volumetric ice content) over evaluation data and broadly congruent spatial distributions with earlier regional-scale studies. The presented data allow the consideration of ground ice content in various geomorphological, ecological, and environmental impact assessment applications at a scale that is more relevant than previous products. The produced ground ice data are available in the supplement for this study and at Zenodo (Karjalainen et al., 2022).

Olli Karjalainen et al.

Status: open (until 07 Nov 2022)

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Olli Karjalainen et al.

Data sets

Ground ice content predictions for the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region at 1-km resolution, version 1.1 Karjalainen, Olli; Aalto, Juha; Kanevskiy, Mikhail Z.; Luoto, Miska; Hjort, Jan

Olli Karjalainen et al.


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Short summary
The amount of underground ice in the Arctic permafrost has a central role when assessing climate change-induced changes to natural conditions and human activity in the Arctic. Here, we present compilations of field-verified ground ice observations and high-resolution estimates of Northern Hemisphere ground ice content. The data highlight the variability of ground ice contents across the Arctic and provide called-for information to be used in modelling and environmental assessment studies.