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Simulated high-latitude soil thermal dynamics during the past 4 decades

Description

Soil temperature (T[subscript s]) change is a key indicator of the dynamics of permafrost. On seasonal and interannual timescales, the variability of T[subscript s] determines the active-layer depth, which regulates

Soil temperature (T[subscript s]) change is a key indicator of the dynamics of permafrost. On seasonal and interannual timescales, the variability of T[subscript s] determines the active-layer depth, which regulates hydrological soil properties and biogeochemical processes. On the multi-decadal scale, increasing T[subscript s] not only drives permafrost thaw/retreat but can also trigger and accelerate the decomposition of soil organic carbon. The magnitude of permafrost carbon feedbacks is thus closely linked to the rate of change of soil thermal regimes. In this study, we used nine process-based ecosystem models with permafrost processes, all forced by different observation-based climate forcing during the period 1960–2000, to characterize the warming rate of T[subscript s] in permafrost regions. There is a large spread of T[subscript s] trends at 20 cm depth across the models, with trend values ranging from 0.010 ± 0.003 to 0.031 ± 0.005 °C yr[superscript −1]. Most models show smaller increase in T[subscript s] with increasing depth. Air temperature (Tsub>a) and longwave downward radiation (LWDR) are the main drivers of T[subscript s] trends, but their relative contributions differ amongst the models. Different trends of LWDR used in the forcing of models can explain 61 % of their differences in T[subscript s] trends, while trends of T[subscript a] only explain 5 % of the differences in T[subscript s] trends. Uncertain climate forcing contributes a larger uncertainty in T[subscript s] trends (0.021 ± 0.008 °C yr[superscript −1], mean ± standard deviation) than the uncertainty of model structure (0.012 ± 0.001 °C yr[superscript −1]), diagnosed from the range of response between different models, normalized to the same forcing. In addition, the loss rate of near-surface permafrost area, defined as total area where the maximum seasonal active-layer thickness (ALT) is less than 3 m loss rate, is found to be significantly correlated with the magnitude of the trends of T[subscript s] at 1 m depth across the models (R = −0.85, P = 0.003), but not with the initial total near-surface permafrost area (R = −0.30, P = 0.438). The sensitivity of the total boreal near-surface permafrost area to T[subscript s] at 1 m is estimated to be of −2.80 ± 0.67 million km[superscript 2 ]°C[superscript −1]. Finally, by using two long-term LWDR data sets and relationships between trends of LWDR and T[subscript s] across models, we infer an observation-constrained total boreal near-surface permafrost area decrease comprising between 39 ± 14  ×  10[superscript 3] and 75 ± 14  ×  10[superscript 3 ]km[superscript 2 ]yr[superscript −1] from 1960 to 2000. This corresponds to 9–18 % degradation of the current permafrost area.

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Date Created
  • 2016-01-20

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Model estimates of climate controls on pan-Arctic wetland methane emissions

Description

Climate factors including soil temperature and moisture, incident solar radiation, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration are important environmental controls on methane (CH[subscript 4]) emissions from northern wetlands. We investigated the

Climate factors including soil temperature and moisture, incident solar radiation, and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration are important environmental controls on methane (CH[subscript 4]) emissions from northern wetlands. We investigated the spatiotemporal distributions of the influence of these factors on northern high-latitude wetland CH[subscript 4] emissions using an enhanced version of the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model. We simulated CH[subscript 4] emissions from wetlands across the pan-Arctic domain over the period 1948–2006, yielding annual average emissions of 36.1 ± 6.7 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1] for the period 1997–2006. We characterized historical sensitivities of CH[subscript 4] emissions to air temperature, precipitation, incident long- and shortwave radiation, and atmospheric [CO[subscript 2]] as a function of average summer air temperature and precipitation. Emissions from relatively warm and dry wetlands in the southern (permafrost-free) portion of the domain were positively correlated with precipitation and negatively correlated with air temperature, while emissions from wetter and colder wetlands further north (permafrost) were positively correlated with air temperature. Over the entire period 1948–2006, our reconstructed CH[subscript 4] emissions increased by 20 %, the majority of which can be attributed to an increasing trend in summer air temperature. We estimated future emissions in response to 21st century warming as predicted by CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) model projections to result in end-of-century CH[subscript 4] emissions 38–53 % higher than our reconstructed 1997–2006 emissions, accompanied by the northward migration of warmer and drier than optimal conditions for CH[subscript 4] emissions, implying a reduced role for temperature in driving future increases in emissions.

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Date Created
  • 2015-11-02

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WETCHIMP-WSL: intercomparison of wetland methane emissions models over West Siberia

Description

Wetlands are the world's largest natural source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The strong sensitivity of methane emissions to environmental factors such as soil temperature and moisture has led

Wetlands are the world's largest natural source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The strong sensitivity of methane emissions to environmental factors such as soil temperature and moisture has led to concerns about potential positive feedbacks to climate change. This risk is particularly relevant at high latitudes, which have experienced pronounced warming and where thawing permafrost could potentially liberate large amounts of labile carbon over the next 100 years. However, global models disagree as to the magnitude and spatial distribution of emissions, due to uncertainties in wetland area and emissions per unit area and a scarcity of in situ observations. Recent intensive field campaigns across the West Siberian Lowland (WSL) make this an ideal region over which to assess the performance of large-scale process-based wetland models in a high-latitude environment. Here we present the results of a follow-up to the Wetland and Wetland CH[subscript 4] Intercomparison of Models Project (WETCHIMP), focused on the West Siberian Lowland (WETCHIMP-WSL). We assessed 21 models and 5 inversions over this domain in terms of total CH[subscript 4] emissions, simulated wetland areas, and CH[subscript 4] fluxes per unit wetland area and compared these results to an intensive in situ CH[subscript 4] flux data set, several wetland maps, and two satellite surface water products. We found that (a) despite the large scatter of individual estimates, 12-year mean estimates of annual total emissions over the WSL from forward models (5.34 ± 0.54 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]), inversions (6.06 ± 1.22 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]), and in situ observations (3.91 ± 1.29 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]) largely agreed; (b) forward models using surface water products alone to estimate wetland areas suffered from severe biases in CH[subscript 4] emissions; (c) the interannual time series of models that lacked either soil thermal physics appropriate to the high latitudes or realistic emissions from unsaturated peatlands tended to be dominated by a single environmental driver (inundation or air temperature), unlike those of inversions and more sophisticated forward models; (d) differences in biogeochemical schemes across models had relatively smaller influence over performance; and (e) multiyear or multidecade observational records are crucial for evaluating models' responses to long-term climate change.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-06-03

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Evaluation of air–soil temperature relationships simulated by land surface models during winter across the permafrost region

Description

A realistic simulation of snow cover and its thermal properties are important for accurate modelling of permafrost. We analyse simulated relationships between air and near-surface (20  cm) soil temperatures in

A realistic simulation of snow cover and its thermal properties are important for accurate modelling of permafrost. We analyse simulated relationships between air and near-surface (20  cm) soil temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region during winter, with a particular focus on snow insulation effects in nine land surface models, and compare them with observations from 268 Russian stations. There are large cross-model differences in the simulated differences between near-surface soil and air temperatures (ΔT; 3 to 14 °C), in the sensitivity of soil-to-air temperature (0.13 to 0.96 °C °[superscript C−1]), and in the relationship between ΔT and snow depth. The observed relationship between ΔT and snow depth can be used as a metric to evaluate the effects of each model's representation of snow insulation, hence guide improvements to the model's conceptual structure and process parameterisations. Models with better performance apply multilayer snow schemes and consider complex snow processes. Some models show poor performance in representing snow insulation due to underestimation of snow depth and/or overestimation of snow conductivity. Generally, models identified as most acceptable with respect to snow insulation simulate reasonable areas of near-surface permafrost (13.19 to 15.77 million  km[superscript 2]). However, there is not a simple relationship between the sophistication of the snow insulation in the acceptable models and the simulated area of Northern Hemisphere near-surface permafrost, because several other factors, such as soil depth used in the models, the treatment of soil organic matter content, hydrology and vegetation cover, also affect the simulated permafrost distribution.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-08-11

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Development and Evaluation of a Multi-Year Fractional Surface Water Data Set Derived from Active/Passive Microwave Remote Sensing Data

Description

The sensitivity of Earth’s wetlands to observed shifts in global precipitation and temperature patterns and their ability to produce large quantities of methane gas are key global change questions. We

The sensitivity of Earth’s wetlands to observed shifts in global precipitation and temperature patterns and their ability to produce large quantities of methane gas are key global change questions. We present a microwave satellite-based approach for mapping fractional surface water (FW) globally at 25-km resolution. The approach employs a land cover-supported, atmospherically-corrected dynamic mixture model applied to 20+ years (1992–2013) of combined, daily, passive/active microwave remote sensing data. The resulting product, known as Surface WAter Microwave Product Series (SWAMPS), shows strong microwave sensitivity to sub-grid scale open water and inundated wetlands comprising open plant canopies. SWAMPS’ FW compares favorably (R[superscript 2] = 91%–94%) with higher-resolution, global-scale maps of open water from MODIS and SRTM-MOD44W. Correspondence of SWAMPS with open water and wetland products from satellite SAR in Alaska and the Amazon deteriorates when exposed wetlands or inundated forests captured by the SAR products were added to the open water fraction reflecting SWAMPS’ inability to detect water underneath the soil surface or beneath closed forest canopies. Except for a brief period of drying during the first 4 years of observation, the inundation extent for the global domain excluding the coast was largely stable. Regionally, inundation in North America is advancing while inundation is on the retreat in Tropical Africa and North Eurasia. SWAMPS provides a consistent and long-term global record of daily FW dynamics, with documented accuracies suitable for hydrologic assessment and global change-related investigations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-12-09

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Assessment of model estimates of land-atmosphere CO2 exchange across Northern Eurasia

Description

A warming climate is altering land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, with a potential for increased vegetation productivity as well as the mobilization of permafrost soil carbon stores. Here we investigate land-atmosphere

A warming climate is altering land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, with a potential for increased vegetation productivity as well as the mobilization of permafrost soil carbon stores. Here we investigate land-atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO[superscript 2]) cycling through analysis of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) and its component fluxes of gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) and soil carbon residence time, simulated by a set of land surface models (LSMs) over a region spanning the drainage basin of Northern Eurasia. The retrospective simulations cover the period 1960–2009 at 0.5° resolution, which is a scale common among many global carbon and climate model simulations. Model performance benchmarks were drawn from comparisons against both observed CO[superscript 2] fluxes derived from site-based eddy covariance measurements as well as regional-scale GPP estimates based on satellite remote-sensing data. The site-based comparisons depict a tendency for overestimates in GPP and ER for several of the models, particularly at the two sites to the south. For several models the spatial pattern in GPP explains less than half the variance in the MODIS MOD17 GPP product. Across the models NEP increases by as little as 0.01 to as much as 0.79 g C m[superscript −2] yr[superscript −2], equivalent to 3 to 340 % of the respective model means, over the analysis period. For the multimodel average the increase is 135 % of the mean from the first to last 10 years of record (1960–1969 vs. 2000–2009), with a weakening CO[superscript 2] sink over the latter decades. Vegetation net primary productivity increased by 8 to 30 % from the first to last 10 years, contributing to soil carbon storage gains. The range in regional mean NEP among the group is twice the multimodel mean, indicative of the uncertainty in CO[superscript 2] sink strength. The models simulate that inputs to the soil carbon pool exceeded losses, resulting in a net soil carbon gain amid a decrease in residence time. Our analysis points to improvements in model elements controlling vegetation productivity and soil respiration as being needed for reducing uncertainty in land-atmosphere CO[superscript 2] exchange. These advances will require collection of new field data on vegetation and soil dynamics, the development of benchmarking data sets from measurements and remote-sensing observations, and investments in future model development and intercomparison studies.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-07-28

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A spatially comprehensive, hydrometeorological data set for Mexico, the U.S., and Southern Canada 1950–2013

Description

A data set of observed daily precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature, gridded to a 1/16° (~6 km) resolution, is described that spans the entire country of Mexico, the conterminous U.S. (CONUS),

A data set of observed daily precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature, gridded to a 1/16° (~6 km) resolution, is described that spans the entire country of Mexico, the conterminous U.S. (CONUS), and regions of Canada south of 53° N for the period 1950–2013. The dataset improves previous products in spatial extent, orographic precipitation adjustment over Mexico and parts of Canada, and reduction of transboundary discontinuities. The impacts of adjusting gridded precipitation for orographic effects are quantified by scaling precipitation to an elevation-aware 1981–2010 precipitation climatology in Mexico and Canada. Differences are evaluated in terms of total precipitation as well as by hydrologic quantities simulated with a land surface model. Overall, orographic correction impacts total precipitation by up to 50% in mountainous regions outside CONUS. Hydrologic fluxes show sensitivities of similar magnitude, with discharge more sensitive than evapotranspiration and soil moisture. Because of the consistent gridding methodology, the current product reduces transboundary discontinuities as compared with a commonly used reanalysis product, making it suitable for estimating large-scale hydrometeorologic phenomena.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-08-18