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Modeling Suspended Sediment Discharge in a Glaciated Arctic Catchment--Lake Peters, Northeast Brooks Range, Alaska
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  • Lorna Thurston,
  • Erik Schiefer,
  • Nicholas McKay,
  • Darrell Kaufman
Lorna Thurston
Northern Arizona University
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Erik Schiefer
Northern Arizona University
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Nicholas McKay
Northern Arizona University, Northern Arizona University
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Darrell Kaufman
Northern Arizona University, Northern Arizona University
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Abstract

Seasonal suspended sediment transfer in glaciated catchments is responsive to meteorological, geomorphological, and glacio-fluvial conditions, and thus is a useful indicator of environmental system dynamics. Knowledge of multifaceted fluvial sediment-transfer processes is limited in the Arctic–a region sensitive to contemporary environmental change. For two glaciated sub-catchments at Lake Peters, northeast Brooks Range, Alaska, we conducted a two-year endeavor to monitor the hydrology and meteorology, and used the data to derive multiple-regression models of suspended sediment load. Statistical selection of the best models shows that incorporating meteorological or temporal explanatory variables improves performances of turbidity- and discharge-based sediment models. The resulting modeled specific suspended sediment yields to Lake Peters are: 33 (20-60) Mg km-2 yr-1 in 2015, and 79 (50-140) Mg km-2 yr-1 in 2016 (95% confidence band estimates). In contrast to previous studies in Arctic Alaska, fluvial suspended sediment transfer to Lake Peters was primarily influenced by rainfall, and secondarily influenced by temperature-driven melt processes associated with clockwise diurnal hysteresis. Despite different sub-catchment glacier coverage, specific yields were the same order of magnitude from the two primary inflows to Lake Peters, which are Carnivore Creek (128 km2; 10% glacier coverage) and Chamberlin Creek (8 km2; 23% glacier coverage). Seasonal to longer term sediment exhaustion and/or contrasting glacier dynamics may explain the lower than expected relative specific sediment yield from the more heavily glacierized Chamberlin Creek catchment. Absolute suspended sediment yield (Mg yr-1) from Carnivore Creek to Lake Peters was 28 times greater than from Chamberlin Creek, which we attribute to catchment size and sediment supply differences. Our results are useful for predicting changes in fluvial sediment transport in glaciated Arctic catchments.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

18 Jan 2020Submitted to Hydrological Processes
24 Jan 2020Submission Checks Completed
24 Jan 2020Assigned to Editor
24 Jan 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Mar 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 Mar 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
22 May 20201st Revision Received
25 May 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
25 May 2020Submission Checks Completed
25 May 2020Assigned to Editor
04 Jun 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Jun 2020Editorial Decision: Accept