Global Warming and Arctic Landscapes


March 1 (Tuesday), 6 p.m., Teton Co. Library Auditorium –Open to Public. Presentation: “The Response of Arctic Landscapes to Warming”. Presented by Ben Crosby, Associate Professor, Idaho State University.

Currently the Arctic is warming at more than double the rate observed at lower latitudes. This has significant implications for both global and arctic earth systems.  At the global scale, a warming arctic results in progressive thaw of organic-rich soils which increases greenhouse gas production, potentially triggering a positive feedback with warming.  At the local scale, a warming arctic alters river forms, lake abundance, fire frequency, and hillslope stability.  Dr. Ben Crosby, a geomorphologist from Idaho State University, has been studying arctic landscape response to warming for over a decade at field sites on the North Slope and in the western Brooks Range of Alaska.   This talk specifically addresses large thaw slumps in Arctic Alaska which have been observed to be increasing in frequency and distribution.  The following questions will be addressed: Have similar instabilities occurred in the past?  What are the mechanisms that initiate and grow these features?  What is their impact on river ecosystems?  What is the fate of the thawed carbon in these features?  To answer these questions we combine analyses of remote sensing data, high frequency ground-based laser scanning and field measurements of water quality and soil respiration.