Permafrost-related threats to alpine headwater lakes: evidence from integrating contemporary research
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Degrading permafrost in periglacial environments can produce acid rock drainage (ARD) and cause severe ecological damage in areas underlain by sulfide-bearing bedrock. Comparative research design was used in the integrating contemporary study to assess and compare ARDs generated by rock glaciers and their effects on alpine headwater lakes with similar morphometric features and underlying bedrock geology, but characterized by different intensities of frost action in their catchments. We argue that ARD and its effects on lakes are more severe in the alpine periglacial belt with mean annual air temperatures (MAAT) between −2 °C and +3 °C, where groundwater persists in the liquid phase for most of the year, in contrast to ARD in the periglacial belt where frost action dominates (MAAT < −2 °C). The findings clearly suggest that the ambient air temperature is an important factor affecting the ARD production in periglacial environments.
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