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Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
22 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
PeRL: A Circum-Arctic Permafrost Region Pond and Lake Database
Sina Muster1, Kurt Roth2, Moritz Langer3, Stephan Lange1, Fabio Cresto Aleina4, Annett Bartsch5, Anne Morgenstern1, Guido Grosse1, Benjamin Jones6, A. Britta K. Sannel7, Ylva Sjöberg7, Frank Günther1, Christian Andresen8, Alexandra Veremeeva9, Prajna R. Lindgren10, Frédéric Bouchard11,13, Mark J. Lara12, Daniel Fortier13, Simon Charbonneau13, Tarmo A. Virtanen14, Gustaf Hugelius7, Juri Palmtag7, Matthias B. Siewert7, William J. Riley15, Charles D. Koven15, and Julia Boike1 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Institute for Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany
3Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
4Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
5Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie and Geodynamik, Vienna, Austria
6U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
7Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography and the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
8Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, USA
9Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Russia
10Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
11Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Centre Eau Terre Environnement (ETE), Québec QC, G1K 9A9, Canada
12Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
13Geography Department, University of Montréal, Montréal QC, H3C 3J7, Canada
14Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
15Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, USA
Abstract. Ponds and lakes are abundant in Arctic permafrost lowlands. They play an important role in Arctic wetland ecosystems by regulating carbon, water, and energy fluxes and providing freshwater habitats. However, ponds, i.e. waterbodies with surface areas smaller than 1.0E+04 m2, have not been inventoried at global and regional scales. The Permafrost Region Pond and Lake Database (PeRL) presents the results of a circum-arctic effort to map ponds and lakes from modern (2002–2013) high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery with a resolution of 5 m or better that resolve waterbodies with a surface area between 1.0E+02 m2 and 1.0E+06 m2. The database also includes historical imagery from 1948 to 1965 with a resolution of 6 m or better. PeRL includes 69 maps covering a wide range of environmental conditions from tundra to boreal regions and from continuous to discontinuous permafrost zones. Waterbody maps are linked to regional permafrost landscape maps which provide information on permafrost extent, ground ice volume, geology and lithology. This paper describes waterbody classification and accuracy, and presents statistics of waterbody distribution for each site. Maps of permafrost landscapes in Alaska, Canada and Russia are used to extrapolate waterbody statistics from the site level to regional landscape units. PeRL presents pond and lake estimates for a total area of 1.4E+06 km2 across the Arctic, about 17 % of the Arctic lowland (< 300 m a.s.l.) land surface area. PeRL waterbodies with sizes of 1.0E+06 m2 down to 1.0E+02 m2 contributed up to 21 % to the total water fraction. Waterbody density ranged from 1.0E+00 per km2 to 9.4E+01 per km2. Ponds are the dominant waterbody type by number in all landscapes with 45 % to 99 % of the total waterbody number. The implementation of PeRL size distributions into land surface models will greatly improve the investigation and projection of surface inundation and carbon fluxes in permafrost lowlands. Waterbody maps, study area boundaries and maps of regional permafrost landscapes including link to detailed metadata are available at

Citation: Muster, S., Roth, K., Langer, M., Lange, S., Cresto Aleina, F., Bartsch, A., Morgenstern, A., Grosse, G., Jones, B., Sannel, A. B. K., Sjöberg, Y., Günther, F., Andresen, C., Veremeeva, A., Lindgren, P. R., Bouchard, F., Lara, M. J., Fortier, D., Charbonneau, S., Virtanen, T. A., Hugelius, G., Palmtag, J., Siewert, M. B., Riley, W. J., Koven, C. D., and Boike, J.: PeRL: A Circum-Arctic Permafrost Region Pond and Lake Database, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., doi:10.5194/essd-2016-56, in review, 2016.
Sina Muster et al.
Sina Muster et al.

Data sets

PeRL: Permafrost Region Pond and Lake Database, links to ArcGIS shapefiles
S. Muster, K. Roth, M. Langer, S. Lange, F. Cresto-Aleina, A. Bartsch, A. Morgenstern, G. Grosse, B. Jones, A. B. K. Y. Sjoeberg, F. Günther, C. Andresen, A. Veremeeva, P. R. Lindgren, F. Bouchard, M. J. Lara, D. Fortier, S. Charbonneau, T. A. Virtanen, G. Hugelius, J. Palmtag, M. B. Siewert, W. J. Riley, C. D. Koven, and J. Boike
Sina Muster et al.


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Short summary
Waterbodies are abundant in Arctic permafrost lowlands. Most waterbodies are ponds having a surface area smaller than 100 × 100 m. The Permafrost Region Pond and Lake Database (PeRL) for the first time mapped ponds as small as 10 × 10 m. PeRL maps can be used to document changes both by comparing them to historical and future imagery. The distribution of waterbodies in the Arctic is important to know in order to manage resources in the Arctic and to improve climate predictions in the Arctic.
Waterbodies are abundant in Arctic permafrost lowlands. Most waterbodies are ponds having a...