Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 9, 719-735, 2015
http://www.the-cryosphere.net/9/719/2015/
doi:10.5194/tc-9-719-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 Apr 2015
Future permafrost conditions along environmental gradients in Zackenberg, Greenland
S. Westermann1,2, B. Elberling1, S. Højlund Pedersen3, M. Stendel4, B. U. Hansen1, and G. E. Liston5 1Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K., Denmark
2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
3Department of Bioscience – Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
4Danish Climate Centre – Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
5Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, 1375 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1375, USA
Abstract. The future development of ground temperatures in permafrost areas is determined by a number of factors varying on different spatial and temporal scales. For sound projections of impacts of permafrost thaw, scaling procedures are of paramount importance. We present numerical simulations of present and future ground temperatures at 10 m resolution for a 4 km long transect across the lower Zackenberg valley in northeast Greenland. The results are based on stepwise downscaling of future projections derived from general circulation model using observational data, snow redistribution modeling, remote sensing data and a ground thermal model. A comparison to in situ measurements of thaw depths at two CALM sites and near-surface ground temperatures at 17 sites suggests agreement within 0.10 m for the maximum thaw depth and 1 °C for annual average ground temperature. Until 2100, modeled ground temperatures at 10 m depth warm by about 5 °C and the active layer thickness increases by about 30%, in conjunction with a warming of average near-surface summer soil temperatures by 2 °C. While ground temperatures at 10 m depth remain below 0 °C until 2100 in all model grid cells, positive annual average temperatures are modeled at 1 m depth for a few years and grid cells at the end of this century. The ensemble of all 10 m model grid cells highlights the significant spatial variability of the ground thermal regime which is not accessible in traditional coarse-scale modeling approaches.

Citation: Westermann, S., Elberling, B., Højlund Pedersen, S., Stendel, M., Hansen, B. U., and Liston, G. E.: Future permafrost conditions along environmental gradients in Zackenberg, Greenland, The Cryosphere, 9, 719-735, doi:10.5194/tc-9-719-2015, 2015.
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Short summary
The development of ground temperatures in permafrost areas is influenced by many factors varying on different spatial and temporal scales. We present numerical simulations of ground temperatures for the Zackenberg valley in NE Greenland, which take into account the spatial variability of snow depths, surface and ground properties at a scale of 10m. The ensemble of the model grid cells suggests a spatial variability of annual average ground temperatures of up to 5°C.
The development of ground temperatures in permafrost areas is influenced by many factors varying...
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