Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Volume 31, Issue 3

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Impact of wildfire on permafrost landscapes: A review of recent advances and future prospects
Jean Holloway | Antoni G. Lewkowicz | Thomas A. Douglas | Xiaodong Wu | M. R. Turetsky | Jennifer L. Baltzer | Huijun Jin

Changes in the frequency and extent of wildfires are expected to lead to substantial and irreversible alterations to permafrost landscapes under a warming climate. Here we review recent publications (2010–2019) that advance our understanding of the effects of wildfire on surface and ground temperatures, on active layer thickness and, where permafrost is ice‐rich, on ground subsidence and the development of thermokarst features. These thermal and geomorphic changes are initiated immediately following wildfire and alter the hydrology and biogeochemistry of permafrost landscapes, including the release of previously frozen carbon. In many locations, permafrost has been resilient, with key characteristics such as active layer thickness returning to pre‐fire conditions after several decades. However, permafrost near its southern limit is losing this resiliency as a result of ongoing climate warming and increasingly common vegetation state changes. Shifts in fire return intervals, severity and extent are expected to alter the trajectories of wildfire impacts on permafrost, and to enlarge spatial impacts to more regularly include the burning of tundra areas. Modeling indicates some lowland boreal forest and tundra environments will remain resilient while uplands and areas with thin organic layers and dry soils will experience rapid and irreversible permafrost degradation. More work is needed to relate modeling to empirical studies, particularly incorporating dynamic variables such as soil moisture, snow and thermokarst development, and to identify post‐fire permafrost responses for different landscape types and regions. Future progress requires further collaboration among geocryologists, ecologists, hydrologists, biogeochemists, modelers and remote sensing specialists.

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The distribution and dynamics of aufeis in permafrost regions
Timothy Ensom | Olga Makarieva | P D Morse | D. L. Kane | Владимир Романович Алексеев | Philip Marsh

Aufeis, also known as an icing or naled, is an accumulation of ice that forms primarily during winter when water is expelled onto frozen ground or ice surfaces and freezes in layers. Process‐oriented aufeis research initially expanded in the 20th century, but recent interest in changing hydrological conditions in permafrost regions has rejuvenated this field. Despite its societal relevance, the controls on aufeis distribution and dynamics are not well defined and this impedes projections of variation in aufeis size and distribution expected to accompany climate change. This paper reviews the physical controls on aufeis development, current broad‐scale aufeis distribution and anticipated change, and approaches to aufeis investigation. We propose an adjustment to terminology to better distinguish between the formation process and resulting ice bodies, a clarification of the aufeis classification approach based on source water, and a size threshold for broad‐scale aufeis inventory to facilitate collaborative research. We identify additional objectives for future research including advancing process knowledge at fine spatial scales, describing broad‐scale distribution using current remote sensing capabilities, and improving our understanding and predictive capacity over the interactions between aufeis and landscape‐scale permafrost, hydrogeological, geotectonic, and climate conditions.