Thermokarst lakes (lakes formed in a depression by meltwater from thawing permafrost) are common features and important ecosystems in Alaska. There is increasing concern about how thermokarst lakes respond to projected climate change and what the potential impacts are on regional carbon cycle dynamics, hydrological regime, and habitat character distribution. This demands better understanding of the location of thermokarst lakes and how their characteristics vary in landscape that will allow to better estimate the risks associated with lake area dynamics. This study attempts to map state-wide thermokarst lake distribution of Alaska, with a minimum size of 0.1 ha, using object oriented classification of high resolution satellite images and additional thematic geospatial data. Mapping lake distribution at different time periods allowed assessment of lake habitat changes, identification of spatial patterns that could be correlated to climate, and to project future habitat changes to assist with developing habitat conservation plans and assessing the stability of freshwater resources for communities.
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