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PI-Submitted Research Highlights for
Terrestrial Ecosystem Science Program

Influences and Interactions of Inundation, Peat, and Snow and Active Layer Thickness

Adam Atchley
Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Active layer response across gradients of environmental conditions.

The Science                       
A physics based numerical model that has been validated at the Barrow Environmental Observatory was used to simulate the subsurface thermal hydrological response in permafrost tundra due to changing environmental conditions of the organic soil layer thickness, snow depth, soil saturation, and ponded depth.    

The Impact
A clear understanding the complex interaction of isolated environmental conditions that govern permafrost conditions were mapped.  As a result, the Arctic tundra response to changing conditions either by naturally occurring environmental gradients or by climate induce perturbations can be inferred.

Summary
The collective work details how active layer thickness (ALT), the annual thaw depth above permafrost, by three important environmental conditions characteristic to Arctic permafrost tundra.  Specifically organic soil layer thickness, snow depth, and unsaturated to inundated conditions.  The work teases out how ALT will change as gradients along these environmental conditions are traversed in either space or time.  A finding of current interest is that wetting or drying of polygonal tundra appears to have a minor affect on ALT compared to organic layer thickness and snow.  However, while the affect that inundation state is minor, it is also very interactive and can act to amplify the other conditions influence on ALT; so much so that subsurface thermal tipping points can be crossed, for example the combined affect of inundation depth and snow can cause taliks, zone of year-round unfrozen soil, to form. 

Contacts (BER PM)
Daniel Stover and Jared DeForest
SC-23.1
Daniel.Stover@science.doe.gov (301-903-0289) and Jared.DeForest@science.doe.gov (301-903-1678)
(PI Contact)
Adam Atchley
Los Alamos National Laboratory
aatchley@lanl.gov  (505-665-6803)

Funding
This work was supported by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Laboratory Direction Research and Development project LDRD201200068DR and by the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE-Arctic) project. NGEE-Arctic is supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science.   

Publications
A.L. Atchley, E.T. Coon, S.L. Painter, D.R. Harp, C.J. Wilson, “Influences and interactions of inundation, peat, and snow and active layer thickness” Geophysical Research Letters In Press (2016). DOI: 10.1002/2016GL068550. 

A.L. Atchley, S.L. Painter, Harp, E.T. Coon, C.J. Wilson, A.K. Liljedahl, V.E. Romanovskey, “” Geoscientific Model Development 8, (2015).  DOI: 10.5194/gmd-8-2701-2015.

Related Links
Journal Article: Influences and interactions of inundation, peat, and snow on active layer thickness
data FTP
Journal Article: Using field observations to inform thermal hydrology models of permafrost dynamics with ATS (v0.83)

This work was supported by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Laboratory Direction Research and Development project LDRD201200068DR and by the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE-Arctic) project. NGEE-Arctic is supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science.


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