Spatial distribution of pingos in northern Asia

TitleSpatial distribution of pingos in northern Asia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGrosse, G, Jones, BM
JournalThe Cryosphere
ISBN Number1994-0424
Keywordsbulgunnyakh, frost mound, GIS, Pingo, Spatial analysis

Pingos are prominent periglacial landforms in vastregions of the Arctic and Subarctic. They are indicators ofmodern and past conditions of permafrost, surface geology,hydrology and climate. A first version of a detailed spatialgeodatabase of 6059 pingo locations in a 3.5×106 km2 regionof northern Asia was assembled from topographic maps.A first order analysis was carried out with respect to permafrost,landscape characteristics, surface geology, hydrology,climate, and elevation datasets using a Geographic InformationSystem (GIS). Pingo heights in the dataset varybetween 2 and 37 m, with a mean height of 4.8 m. About64% of the pingos occur in continuous permafrost with highice content and thick sediments; another 19% in continuouspermafrost with moderate ice content and thick sediments.The majority of these pingos are likely hydrostatic pingos,which are typical of those located in drained thermokarstlake basins of northern lowlands with continuous permafrost.About 82% of the pingos are located in the tundra bioclimaticzone. Most pingos in the dataset are located in regions withmean annual ground temperatures between -3 and -11 Cand mean annual air temperatures between -7 and -18 C.The dataset confirms that surface geology and hydrologyare key factors for pingo formation and occurrence. Basedon model predictions for near-future permafrost distribution,about 2073 pingos (34%) along the southern margins of permafrostwill be located in regions with thawing permafrostby 2100, which ultimately may lead to increased occurrenceof pingo collapse. Based on our dataset and previously publishedestimates of pingo numbers from other regions, weconclude that there are more than 11 000 pingos on Earth.