Modern degradation of Arctic permafrost promotes changes in tundra landscapes and leads to degradation of ice wedge polygons, which are the most widespread landforms of Arctic wetlands. Status assessment of polygon degradation is important for various environmental studies. We have applied the geographic information systems’ (GIS) analysis of data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to accurately assess the status of ice wedge polygon degradation on Samoylov Island. We used several modern models of polygon degradation for revealing polygon types, which obviously correspond to different stages of degradation. Manual methods of mapping and a high spatial resolution of used UAV data allowed for a high degree of accuracy in the identification of all land units. The study revealed the following: 41.79% of the first terrace surface was composed of non-degraded polygonal tundra; 18.37% was composed of polygons, which had signs of thermokarst activity and corresponded to various stages of degradation in the models; and 39.84% was composed of collapsed polygons, slopes, valleys, and water bodies, excluding ponds of individual polygons. This study characterizes the current status of polygonal tundra degradation of the first terrace surface on Samoylov Island. Our assessment reflects the landscape condition of the first terrace surface of Samoylov Island, which is the typical island of the southern part of the Lena Delta. Moreover, the study illustrates the potential of UAV data GIS analysis for highly accurate investigations of Arctic landscape changes.
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