08 Jan 2024
 | 08 Jan 2024
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Multi-Source Synthesis, Harmonization, and Inventory of Critical Infrastructure and Human-Impacted Areas in Permafrost Regions of Alaska (SIRIUS)

Soraya Kaiser, Julia Boike, Guido Grosse, and Moritz Langer

Abstract. The Arctic region has undergone warming at a rate more than three times higher than the global average. This warming has led to the degradation of near-surface permafrost, resulting in a loss of ground stability. This instability not only poses a primary threat to Arctic infrastructure and human-impacted areas, but can also lead to secondary ecological hazards from infrastructure failure associated with hazardous materials. This development underscores the need for a comprehensive inventory of critical infrastructure and human-impacted areas, that is linked to environmental data to assess their susceptibility to permafrost degradation as well as the ecological consequences that may arise from infrastructure failure. In this study, we provide such an inventory for Alaska, a vast state covering approximately 1.5 million km2, with a population of over 733,000 people and a history of industrial development on permafrost. Our SIRIUS inventory integrates data from (i) the Sentinel-1/2 derived Arctic coastal human impact dataset (SACHI), (ii) OpenStreetMap , (iii) the pan-Arctic catchments summary database (ARCADE), (iv) the permafrost extent, probability and mean annual ground temperatures, and (v) the contaminated sites database and reports to create a unified new dataset of critical infrastructure and human-impacted areas as well as permafrost and watershed information for Alaska. The integration steps involved harmonizing spatial references, extents, and geometries, the usage of text mining techniques to generate additional geospatial data on contaminated sites – including contaminants, cleanup duration, and affected medium – from textual reports, and the incorporation of a uniform usage type classification scheme for infrastructure. The combination of SACHI and OSM enhanced the detail of the usage type classification for infrastructure from 5 to 13 categories, which allows for the identification of elements critical to Arctic communities beyond industrial sites. Further, the new inventory unites the high level of spatial accuracy from OSM with high level of completeness from SACHI. The SIRIUS dataset is presented as a GeoPackage, enabling spatial analysis and queries of its components, either in dependence or combination with one another.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Soraya Kaiser, Julia Boike, Guido Grosse, and Moritz Langer

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-393', Bretwood Higman, 31 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Soraya Kaiser, 18 Apr 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2023-393', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Feb 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Soraya Kaiser, 18 Apr 2024
Soraya Kaiser, Julia Boike, Guido Grosse, and Moritz Langer

Data sets

SIRIUS - Synthesized Inventory of CRitical Infrastructure and HUman-Impacted Areas in Permafrost Regions of AlaSka Soraya Kaiser et al.

Soraya Kaiser, Julia Boike, Guido Grosse, and Moritz Langer


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Short summary
Arctic warming, leading to permafrost degradation, poses primary threats to infrastructure and secondary ecological hazards from possible infrastructure failure. Our study created a comprehensive Alaska inventory combining various data sources with which we improved infrastructure classification and data on contaminated sites. This resource is presented as a GeoPackage allowing planning of infrastructure damages and possible implications for Arctic communities facing permafrost challenges.