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Volume 10, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 10, 2517-2532, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2517-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in...

The Cryosphere, 10, 2517-2532, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2517-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 25 Oct 2016

Research article | 25 Oct 2016

Scaling-up permafrost thermal measurements in western Alaska using an ecotype approach

William L. Cable1, Vladimir E. Romanovsky1,2, and M. Torre Jorgenson3 William L. Cable et al.
  • 1Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, 99775, USA
  • 2Earth Cryosphere Institute, 86 Malygina Street, 625000 Tyumen, Russia
  • 3Alaska Ecoscience, Fairbanks, 99709, USA

Abstract. Permafrost temperatures are increasing in Alaska due to climate change and in some cases permafrost is thawing and degrading. In areas where degradation has already occurred the effects can be dramatic, resulting in changing ecosystems, carbon release, and damage to infrastructure. However, in many areas we lack baseline data, such as subsurface temperatures, needed to assess future changes and potential risk areas. Besides climate, the physical properties of the vegetation cover and subsurface material have a major influence on the thermal state of permafrost. These properties are often directly related to the type of ecosystem overlaying permafrost. In this paper we demonstrate that classifying the landscape into general ecotypes is an effective way to scale up permafrost thermal data collected from field monitoring sites. Additionally, we find that within some ecotypes the absence of a moss layer is indicative of the absence of near-surface permafrost. As a proof of concept, we used the ground temperature data collected from the field sites to recode an ecotype land cover map into a map of mean annual ground temperature ranges at 1m depth based on analysis and clustering of observed thermal regimes. The map should be useful for decision making with respect to land use and understanding how the landscape might change under future climate scenarios.

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Permafrost temperatures in Alaska are increasing, yet in many areas we lack data needed to assess future changes and potential risks. In this paper we show that classifying the landscape into landcover types is an effective way to scale up permafrost temperature data collected from field monitoring sites. Based on these results, a map of mean annual ground temperature ranges at 1 m depth was produced. The map should be useful for land use decision making and identifying potential risk areas.
Permafrost temperatures in Alaska are increasing, yet in many areas we lack data needed to...
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