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The impact of snow accumulation on the active layer thermal regime in high Arctic soils

Melissa J. Lafreniere, Emil Laurin and Scott F. Lamoureux
The impact of snow accumulation on the active layer thermal regime in high Arctic soils (in Progress in modeling and characterization of frozen soil processes, Nobuo Toride (editor), Kunio Watanabe (editor) and Masaki Hayashi (editor))
Vadose Zone Journal (February 2013) 12 (1)


This study quantifies the impacts of snow augmentation and the timing of snow accumulation on the soil thermal regime at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory (CBAWO), in the Canadian High Arctic. Monthly soil temperatures between December and March 2006-2007 were 7.7 to 9.9 degrees C warmer beneath a deep drift (54 cm) relative to soils beneath ambient (unamended or background) snow conditions (10 cm). Although air temperatures and total snow accumulation at the sites in 2007-2008 were very similar to the previous winter, the mean monthly soil temperatures beneath two snow drifts (50 and 88 cm) were only 0.2 to 5.7 degrees C warmer for January through March than soils subject to ambient snow depths (18 and 35 cm). Results demonstrate that the timing of snow accumulation was more important than snow depth in determining winter soil temperatures. In 2006-2007, snow cover insulated soils by early November, while in 2007-2008 there was insufficient snow cover to insulate soils until late January 2008. In 2006-2007, winter (December-March) soil temperatures beneath the deepest snow (54 cm) exceeded winter air temperatures by 6 degrees C, and mean annual air temperatures by 1 degrees C, while in 2007-2008 winter soil temperatures beneath 88 cm of snow were only 0.3 degrees C warmer than air, and mean annual temperatures were 2.4 degrees C cooler than air. There was a weak but significant inverse correlation between the maximum active layer thickness and the snow depth; however, this correlation was more pronounced for snow depths below approximately 30 cm. This study demonstrates that an understanding of the timing of projected increases in winter precipitation is necessary to predict changes in the active layer's thermal, hydrological, and biogeochemical response to regional climate change.

ISSN: 1539-1663
Serial Title: Vadose Zone Journal
Serial Volume: 12
Serial Issue: 1
Title: The impact of snow accumulation on the active layer thermal regime in high Arctic soils
Title: Progress in modeling and characterization of frozen soil processes
Author(s): Lafreniere, Melissa J.Laurin, EmilLamoureux, Scott F.
Author(s): Toride, Nobuoeditor
Author(s): Watanabe, Kunioeditor
Author(s): Hayashi, Masakieditor
Affiliation: Queen's University, Department of Geography, Kingston, ON, Canada
Affiliation: Mie University, Graduate School of Bioresources, Japan
Published: 201302
Text Language: English
Publisher: Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, United States
References: 40
Accession Number: 2013-030637
Categories: Soils
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 4 tables, sketch map
N74°30'00" - N74°30'00", W109°30'00" - W109°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Calgary, CAN, Canada
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Soil Science Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201319
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