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TitleChanges in soil temperature and active layer thickness during the twentieth century in a region in western Canada
DownloadDownloads (Preprint)
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorChen, WORCID logo; Zhang, YORCID logo; Cihlar, J; Smith, S LORCID logo; Riseborough, D W
SourceJournal of Geophysical Research vol. 108, no. 22, 4696, 2003 p. ACL 6 1-ACL 6 13, Open Access logo Open Access
LinksAbstract - Résumé
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20043167
Alt SeriesGeological Survey of Canada, Contribution Series 2002226
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
SubjectsEconomics and Industry; Nature and Environment
ProgramProgram of Energy Research and Development (PERD)
ProgramClimate Change Action Fund (CCAF)
Released2003 11 21
AbstractIncreases in active-layer thickness and permafrost degradation induced by climate warming may have profound socio-economic and eco-environmental consequences. Using a process-based model of Northern Ecosystem Soil Temperature (NEST) and data from climate records, remote sensing vegetation parameters, and soil features, we simulated soil temperature and active-layer thickness (ALT) for a region in western Canada during the twentieth century. The results showed that the region-averaged annual mean soil temperatures at different depths responded to air temperature forcing consistently during the twentieth century, but with reduced magnitudes in both long-term trend and interannual variation. From the 1900s to 1986-1995, ALT increased 124 cm (or 79%) in the isolated and sporadic discontinuous permafrost zones, 59 cm (or 37%) in the extensive discontinuous permafrost zone, and 20 cm (or 21%) in the continuous permafrost zone based on the current permafrost distribution map. The simulated results also indicated the disappearance of 17% of the permafrost in the discontinuous permafrost zone from the 1900s to 1940s, and another 22% from the 1940s to 1986-1995. General agreements were found when comparing the simulated results with soil temperature records at climate stations, ALT at survey sites, and rates of permafrost degradation interpreted from aerial photographs. Owing to differences in spatial scales, spatial coverage, and time periods, many of the comparisons were not strict 1-to-1 comparisons and should instead be viewed as indirect supporting evidence.

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