Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Research article
25 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 25 Jul 2016

Effects of stratified active layers on high-altitude permafrost warming: a case study on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau

Xicai Pan, Yanping Li, Qihao Yu, Xiaogang Shi, Daqing Yang, and Kurt Roth

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Cited articles

Burn, C. R. and Smith, C. A. S.: Observations of the “thermal offset” in near-surface mean annual ground temperatures at several sites near Mayo, Yukon Territory, Canada, Arctic, 41, 9–104, 1988.
Brown, R. J. E.: Permafrost in Canada: its influence on northern development, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1970.
Cheng, G. and Wu, T.: Responses of permafrost to climate change and their environmental significance, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, J. Geophys. Res., 112, F02S03,, 2007.
Cosenza, P., Guerin, R., and Tabbagh, A.: Relationship between thermal conductivity and water content of soils using numerical modelling, Eur. J. Soil Sci., 54, 581–587, 2003.
Dall'Amico, M., Endrizzi, S., Gruber, S., and Rigon, R.: A robust and energy-conserving model of freezing variably-saturated soil, The Cryosphere, 5, 469–484,, 2011.
Short summary
Using a 9-year dataset in conjunction with a process-based model, we verify that the common assumption of a considerably smaller thermal conductivity in the thawed season than the frozen season is not valid at a site with a stratified active layer on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP). The unique hydraulic and thermal mechanism in the active layer challenges the concept of thermal offset used in conceptual permafrost models and hints at the reason for rapid permafrost warming on the QTP.