Articles | Volume 12, issue 11
Research article
27 Nov 2018
Research article |  | 27 Nov 2018

Observation and modelling of snow at a polygonal tundra permafrost site: spatial variability and thermal implications

Isabelle Gouttevin, Moritz Langer, Henning Löwe, Julia Boike, Martin Proksch, and Martin Schneebeli

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Cited articles

Adams, E. E. and Sato, A.: Model for effective thermal conductivity of a dry snow cover composed of uniform ice spheres, Ann. Glaciol., 18, 300–304, 1993. 
Avis, C. A., Weaver, A. J., and Meissner, K. J.: Reduction in areal extent of high-latitude wetlands in response to permafrost thaw, Nat. Geosci., 4, 444–448, 2011. 
Barrere, M., Domine, F., Decharme, B., Morin, S., Vionnet, V., and Lafaysse, M.: Evaluating the performance of coupled snow–soil models in SURFEXv8 to simulate the permafrost thermal regime at a high Arctic site, Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 3461–3479,, 2017. 
Bartelt, P. and Lehning, M.: A physical SNOWPACK model for the Swiss avalanche warning: Part I: numerical model, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 35, 123–145, 2002. 
Boike, J., Hinzman, L. D., Overduin, P. P., Romanovsky, V., Ippisch, O., and Roth, K.: A comparison of snow melt at three circumpolar sites: Spitsbergen, Siberia, Alaska, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Permafrost, Zurich, Switzerland, 21–25 July 2003, 79–84, 2003. 
Short summary
Snow insulates the ground from the cold air in the Arctic winter, majorly affecting permafrost. This insulation depends on snow characteristics and is poorly quantified. Here, we characterize it at a carbon-rich permafrost site, using a recent technique that retrieves the 3-D structure of snow and its thermal properties. We adapt a snowpack model enabling the simulation of this insulation over a whole winter. We estimate that local snow variations induce up to a 6 °C spread in soil temperatures.