Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 10, 2291-2315, 2016
http://www.the-cryosphere.net/10/2291/2016/
doi:10.5194/tc-10-2291-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
30 Sep 2016
Effects of bryophyte and lichen cover on permafrost soil temperature at large scale
Philipp Porada1,2, Altug Ekici1,3,4, and Christian Beer1,2 1Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, Svante Arrhenius väg 8, 11418 Stockholm, Sweden
2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
3Earth System Sciences, Laver Building, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
4Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
Abstract. Bryophyte and lichen cover on the forest floor at high latitudes exerts an insulating effect on the ground. In this way, the cover decreases mean annual soil temperature and can protect permafrost soil. Climate change, however, may change bryophyte and lichen cover, with effects on the permafrost state and related carbon balance. It is, therefore, crucial to predict how the bryophyte and lichen cover will react to environmental change at the global scale. To date, current global land surface models contain only empirical representations of the bryophyte and lichen cover, which makes it impractical to predict the future state and function of bryophytes and lichens. For this reason, we integrate a process-based model of bryophyte and lichen growth into the global land surface model JSBACH (Jena Scheme for Biosphere–Atmosphere Coupling in Hamburg). The model simulates bryophyte and lichen cover on upland sites. Wetlands are not included. We take into account the dynamic nature of the thermal properties of the bryophyte and lichen cover and their relation to environmental factors. Subsequently, we compare simulations with and without bryophyte and lichen cover to quantify the insulating effect of the organisms on the soil.

We find an average cooling effect of the bryophyte and lichen cover of 2.7 K on temperature in the topsoil for the region north of 50° N under the current climate. Locally, a cooling of up to 5.7 K may be reached. Moreover, we show that using a simple, empirical representation of the bryophyte and lichen cover without dynamic properties only results in an average cooling of around 0.5 K. This suggests that (a) bryophytes and lichens have a significant impact on soil temperature in high-latitude ecosystems and (b) a process-based description of their thermal properties is necessary for a realistic representation of the cooling effect. The advanced land surface scheme, including a dynamic bryophyte and lichen model, will be the basis for an improved future projection of land–atmosphere heat and carbon exchange.


Citation: Porada, P., Ekici, A., and Beer, C.: Effects of bryophyte and lichen cover on permafrost soil temperature at large scale, The Cryosphere, 10, 2291-2315, doi:10.5194/tc-10-2291-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
Bryophyte and lichen cover on the forest floor at high latitudes insulates the ground and thus decreases soil temperature. This can protect permafrost soil, stabilising it against global warming. To quantify the insulating effect, we integrate a novel, process-based model of bryophyte and lichen growth into the global land surface model JSBACH. We find an average cooling effect of the bryophyte and lichen cover of 2.7 K, which implies a significant impact on soil temperature at high latitudes.
Bryophyte and lichen cover on the forest floor at high latitudes insulates the ground and thus...
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