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

The Cryosphere
By: , and 

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Abstract

 A realistic simulation of snow cover and its thermal properties are important for accurate modelling of permafrost. We analyze 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 across-model differences as expressed by simulated differences between near-surface soil and air temperatures, (ΔT), of 3 to 14 K, in the gradients between soil and air temperatures (0.13 to 0.96°C/°C), 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, and hence guide improvements to the model’s conceptual structure and process parameterizations. Models with better performance apply multi-layer 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 (12–16 million km2). However, there is not a simple relationship between the quality of the snow insulation in the acceptable models and the simulated area of Northern Hemisphere near-surface permafrost, likely because several other factors such as differences in the treatment of soil organic matter, soil hydrology, surface energy calculations, and vegetation also provide important controls on simulated permafrost distribution.

 

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluation of air-soil temperature relationships simulated by land surface models during winter across the permafrost region
Series title The Cryosphere
DOI 10.5194/tc-2016-36
Issue Online First
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher European Geosciences Union
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N