State of Alaska Alaska / Natural Resources DNR / Geological & Geophysical Surveys DGGS / PublicationsPubs / Zhang, Tingjun, 1993Zhang, Tingjun, 1993

Zhang, Tingjun, 1993

Climate, seasonal snow cover and permafrost temperatures in Alaska north of the Brooks Range

Bibliographic Reference

Zhang, Tingjun, 1993, Climate, seasonal snow cover and permafrost temperatures in Alaska north of the Brooks Range: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ph.D. dissertation, 232 p., illust.


Climatological data, active layer and permafrost measurements, and modeling were used to investigate the response of permafrost temperatures to changes in climate in Alaska north of the Brooks Range. Mean annual air temperature (MAAT) from 1987 to 1991 within about 110 km from the Arctic Coast was -12.4 +/- 0.3°C, while the mean annual permafrost surface temperature (MAPST) ranged from -9.0°C along the coast to -5.2°C inland. Air temperature changes alone cannot explain the permafrost warming from the coast to inland. Measurements show that MAPST are about 3°C to 6°C warmer than MAAT in the region. The interaction of local microrelief and vegetation with snow appears to change the insulating effect of seasonal snow cover and may be the major factor which controls the permafrost temperature during the winter and thus the MAPST. Sensitivity analyses show that for the same MAAT conditions, changes in seasonal snow cover parameters can increase or decrease the MAPST about 7°C. Snowfall was greater during the cold years and less during the warm years and was poorly correlated between stations. These results suggest that the effects of changes in air temperatures on permafrost temperatures historically may also have been modified by changes in snow cover. A numerical model was used to investigate the effect of changes in initial permafrost temperature conditions, MAAT, seasonal snow cover and thermal properties of soils on the permafrost temperatures. Permafrost may have started warming about the same time as the atmosphere did in the late 1800s, and the long term mean surface temperature of the permafrost may have been established prior to this time. Variations in the penetration depth of the warming signal may be related to differences in thermal properties of permafrost. Variations in the magnitude of the permafrost surface warming may be due to the effect of local factors such as soil type, vegetation, microrelief, soil moisture, and seasonal snow cover. The effect of the interaction of vegetation and snow cover may amplify the signal of temperature change in the permafrost.

Publication Products


Theses and Dissertations

Top of Page

Copyright © 2024 · State of Alaska · Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys · Webmaster