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[en] The present state of sub-sea permafrost modeling does not agree with certain observational data on the permafrost state within the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. This suggests a need to consider other mechanisms of permafrost destabilization after the recent ocean transgression. We propose development of open taliks wherever thaw lakes and river paleo-valleys were submerged shelf-wide as a possible mechanism for the degradation of sub-sea permafrost. To test the hypothesis we performed numerical modeling of permafrost dynamics in the Dmitry Laptev Strait area. We achieved sufficient agreement with the observed distribution of thawed and frozen layers to suggest that the proposed mechanism of permafrost destabilization is plausible.
[en] A high resolution three-dimensional sub-regional scale (104 km"2) density-dependent, discretely fractured groundwater flow model with hydro-mechanical coupling and pseudo-permafrost was developed from a larger 5734 km"2 regional-scale groundwater flow model of a Canadian Shield setting. The objective of the work is to determine the sensitivity of modelled groundwater system evolution to the hydro-mechanical parameters. The discrete fracture dual continuum numerical model FRAC3DVS-OPG was used for all simulations. A discrete fracture network model delineated from surface features was superimposed onto an approximate 790 000 element domain mesh with approximately 850 000 nodes. Orthogonal fracture faces (between adjacent finite element grid blocks) were used to best represent the irregular discrete fracture zone network. Interconnectivity of the permeable fracture zones is an important pathway for the possible migration and subsequent reduction in groundwater and contaminant residence times. The crystalline rock matrix between these structural discontinuities was assigned mechanical and flow properties characteristic of those reported for the Canadian Shield. The variation of total dissolved solids with depth was assigned using literature data for the Canadian Shield. Performance measures for the sensitivity analysis include equivalent freshwater heads, environmental heads, linear velocities, and depth of penetration by conservative non-decaying tracers released at the surface. A 121 000 year North American continental scale paleo-climate simulation was applied to the domain with ice-sheet histories estimated by the University of Toronto Glacial Systems Model (UofT GSM). Hydro-mechanical coupling between the rock matrix and the pore fluid, due to the ice sheet normal stress, was included in the simulations. The flow model included the influence of vertical strain and assumed that areal loads were homogeneous. Permafrost depth was applied as a permeability reduction to both three-dimensional grid blocks and fractures that lie within the time varying permafrost zone. Values of ice sheet normal stress and proglacial lake depth from the UofT GSM were applied to the sub-regional model as surface boundary conditions using a freshwater head equivalent to the normal stress imposed by the ice sheet at its base. The sensitivity of glacial meltwater penetration to different conceptualizations of hydro-mechanical properties were investigated. (author)
[en] Permafrost on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) has degraded over the last few decades. Its ecological effects have attracted great concern. Previous studies focused mostly at plot scale, and hypothesized that degradation of permafrost would cause lowering of the water table and drying of shallow soil and then degradation of alpine grassland. However, none has been done to test the hypothesis at basin scale. In this study, for the first time, we investigated the relationships between land surface temperature (LST) and fractional vegetation cover (FVC) in different types of permafrost zone to infer the limiting condition (water or energy) of grassland growth on the source region of Shule River Basin, which is located in the north-eastern edge of the QTP. LST was obtained from MODIS Aqua products at 1 km resolution, while FVC was upscaled from quadrat (50 cm) to the same resolution as LST, using 30 m resolution NDVI data of the Chinese HJ satellite. FVC at quadrat scale was estimated by analyzing pictures taken with a multi-spectral camera. Results showed that (1) retrieval of FVC at quadrat scale using a multi-spectral camera was both more accurate and more efficient than conventional methods and (2) the limiting factor of vegetation growth transitioned from energy in the extreme stable permafrost zone to water in the seasonal frost zone. Our study suggested that alpine grassland would respond differently to permafrost degradation in different types of permafrost zone. Future studies should consider overall effects of permafrost degradation, and avoid the shortcomings of existing studies, which focus too much on the adverse effects.
[en] Increased snow depth already observed, and that predicted for the future are of critical importance to many geophysical and biological processes as well as human activities. The future characteristics of sub-arctic landscapes where permafrost is particularly vulnerable will depend on complex interactions between snow cover, vegetation and permafrost. An experimental manipulation was, therefore, set up on a lowland peat plateau with permafrost, in northernmost Sweden, to simulate projected future increases in winter precipitation and to study their effects on permafrost and vegetation. After seven years of treatment, statistically significant differences between manipulated and control plots were found in mean winter ground temperatures, which were 1.5 ° C higher in manipulated plots. During the winter, a difference in minimum temperatures of up to 9 ° C higher could be found in individual manipulated plots compared with control plots. Active layer thicknesses increased at the manipulated plots by almost 20% compared with the control plots and a mean surface subsidence of 24 cm was recorded in the manipulated plots compared to 5 cm in the control plots. The graminoid Eriophorum vaginatum has expanded in the manipulated plots and the vegetation remained green longer in the season. (letter)