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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(12), 1892; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10121892

Impacts of Climate Change and Intensive Lesser Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) Activity on Surface Water in High Arctic Pond Complexes

1
School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
2
Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 October 2018 / Revised: 16 November 2018 / Accepted: 18 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Environmental Changes in Cold Regions)
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Abstract

Rapid increases in air temperature in Arctic and subarctic regions are driving significant changes to surface waters. These changes and their impacts are not well understood in sensitive high-Arctic ecosystems. This study explores changes in surface water in the high Arctic pond complexes of western Banks Island, Northwest Territories. Landsat imagery (1985–2015) was used to detect sub-pixel trends in surface water. Comparison of higher resolution aerial photographs (1958) and satellite imagery (2014) quantified changes in the size and distribution of waterbodies. Field sampling investigated factors contributing to the observed changes. The impact of expanding lesser snow goose populations and other biotic or abiotic factors on observed changes in surface water were also investigated using an information theoretic model selection approach. Our analyses show that the pond complexes of western Banks Island lost 7.9% of the surface water that existed in 1985. Drying disproportionately impacted smaller sized waterbodies, indicating that climate is the main driver. Model selection showed that intensive occupation by lesser snow geese was associated with more extensive drying and draining of waterbodies and suggests this intensive habitat use may reduce the resilience of pond complexes to climate warming. Changes in surface water are likely altering permafrost, vegetation, and the utility of these areas for animals and local land-users, and should be investigated further. View Full-Text
Keywords: tundra ponds; Arctic wetlands; desiccation; Landsat; aerial photographs; global change; protected areas tundra ponds; Arctic wetlands; desiccation; Landsat; aerial photographs; global change; protected areas
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Campbell, T.K.F.; Lantz, T.C.; Fraser, R.H. Impacts of Climate Change and Intensive Lesser Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) Activity on Surface Water in High Arctic Pond Complexes. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1892.

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