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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-88
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-88
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 30 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Linking tundra vegetation, snow, soil temperature, and permafrost

Inge Grünberg1, Evan J. Wilcox2, Simon Zwieback3, Philip Marsh2, and Julia Boike1,4 Inge Grünberg et al.
  • 1Permafrost Research, Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar und Meeresforschung, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Cold Regions Research Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada
  • 3Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • 4Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Soil temperatures in permafrost regions are highly heterogeneous on small scales, in part due to variable snow and vegetation cover. Moreover, the temperature distribution that results from the interplay of complex biophysical processes remains poorly constrained. Sixty-eight temperature loggers were installed to record the distribution of topsoil temperatures at the Trail Valley Creek study site in the Northwestern Canadian Arctic. The measurements were distributed across six different vegetation types characteristic for this landscape. Two years of topsoil temperature data were analysed statistically to identify temporal and spatial characteristics and their relationship to vegetation, snow cover and active layer thickness. The mean annual topsoil temperature varied between −3.7 °C and 0.1 °C within a 1.2 km distance, with an approximate average across the landscape of −2.3 °C in 2017 and −1.7 °C in 2018. The observed variation can, to a large degree, be explained by variation in snow cover. Differences in height between vegetation types cause spatially variable snow depth during winter, leading to spatially variable snow melt timing in spring, causing pronounced differences in topsoil mean temperature and temperature variability during those time periods. Summer topsoil temperatures were quite similar below most vegetation types, and not consistently related to active layer thickness at the end of August. The small-scale pattern of vegetation and its influence on snow cover height and snow melt governs the annual topsoil temperature in this permafrost-underlain landscape.

Inge Grünberg et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Inge Grünberg et al.

Data sets

Vegetation map of Trail Valley Creek, Northwest Territories, Canada I. Grünberg and J. Boike https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.904270

Inge Grünberg et al.

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Latest update: 03 Jun 2020
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Short summary
Two years of topsoil temperatures for different vegetation types were analysed (Northwestern Canadian Arctic). The temperature variation can largely be explained by variation in snow cover. Summer temperatures were similar below most vegetation types, and not consistently related to active layer thickness at the end of August. The small-scale pattern of vegetation and its influence on snow cover height and snow melt governs the annual topsoil temperature in this permafrost-underlain landscape.
Two years of topsoil temperatures for different vegetation types were analysed (Northwestern...
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