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TitleImpacts of snow on soil temperature observed across the circumpolar north
AuthorZhang, YORCID logo; Sherstiukov, A B; Qian, B; Kokelj, S V; Lantz, T C
SourceEnvironmental Research Letters vol. 13, no. 4, 044012, 2018 p. 1-10, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20181042
PublisherIOP Publishing
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceCanada; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
AreaEurasia; Canada; United States of America
Lat/Long WENS-180.0000 180.0000 90.0000 40.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; soils science; Nature and Environment; Science and Technology; ground temperatures; snow; climate effects; meteorology; temperature; permafrost; ground ice; boreholes; soils; organic carbon; Climate change; Northern studies; Infrastructures; cumulative effects; permafrost thaw; Data processing
Illustrationssketch maps; plots; tables
ProgramRemote Sensing Science
Released2018 04 03
AbstractClimate warming has significant impacts on permafrost, infrastructure and soil organic carbon at the northern high latitudes. These impacts are mainly driven by changes in soil temperature (TS). Snow insulation can cause significant differences between TS and air temperature (TA), and our understanding about this effect through space and time is currently limited. In this study, we compiled soil and air temperature observations (measured at about 0.2 m depth and 2 m height, respectively) at 588 sites from climate stations and boreholes across the northern high latitudes. Analysis of this circumpolar dataset demonstrates the large offset between mean TS and TA in the low arctic and northern boreal regions. The offset decreases both northward and southward due to changes in snow conditions. Correlation analysis shows that the coupling between annual TS and TA is weaker, and the response of annual TS to changes in TA is smaller in boreal regions than in the arctic and the northern temperate regions. Consequently, the inter-annual variation and the increasing trends of annual TS are smaller than that of TA in boreal regions. The systematic and significant differences in the relationship between TS and TA across the circumpolar north is important for understanding and assessing the impacts of climate change and for reconstruction of historical climate based on ground temperature profiles for the northern high latitudes.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Air temperature in the northern high latitudes is increasing twice as fast as the global average, which could have significant impacts on permafrost, infrastructure, and the huge amount of organic carbon stored in frozen soils. However, these impacts are mainly through changes in soil temperature. Soil temperature in this region is strongly mediated by snow cover, and our understanding about this effect is limited at local and regional scales. In this study, we report a large offset between mean soil and air temperatures in low arctic and northern boreal regions across the circumpolar based on observations at 587 sites across the northern high latitudes. The offset decreases both northward and southward. Thick and relatively long period of snow cover in boreal regions decouples soil and air temperatures, and reduces the response of soil temperature. These results are important for assessing the impacts of climate warming and for reconstruction of historical climate based on deep ground temperatures.

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