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Title: Modeling the spatiotemporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape

Abstract

Vast carbon stocks stored in permafrost soils of Arctic tundra are under risk of release to the atmosphere under warming climate scenarios. Ice-wedge polygons in the low-gradient polygonal tundra create a complex mosaic of microtopographic features. This microtopography plays a critical role in regulating the fine-scale variability in thermal and hydrological regimes in the polygonal tundra landscape underlain by continuous permafrost. Modeling of thermal regimes of this sensitive ecosystem is essential for understanding the landscape behavior under the current as well as changing climate. Here, we present an end-to-end effort for high-resolution numerical modeling of thermal hydrology at real-world field sites, utilizing the best available data to characterize and parameterize the models. We also develop approaches to model the thermal hydrology of polygonal tundra and apply them at four study sites near Barrow, Alaska, spanning across low to transitional to high-centered polygons, representing a broad polygonal tundra landscape. A multiphase subsurface thermal hydrology model (PFLOTRAN) was developed and applied to study the thermal regimes at four sites. Using a high-resolution lidar digital elevation model (DEM), microtopographic features of the landscape were characterized and represented in the high-resolution model mesh. The best available soil data from field observations and literature were utilizedmore » to represent the complex heterogeneous subsurface in the numerical model. Simulation results demonstrate the ability of the developed modeling approach to capture – without recourse to model calibration – several aspects of the complex thermal regimes across the sites, and provide insights into the critical role of polygonal tundra microtopography in regulating the thermal dynamics of the carbon-rich permafrost soils. Moreover, areas of significant disagreement between model results and observations highlight the importance of field-based observations of soil thermal and hydraulic properties for modeling-based studies of permafrost thermal dynamics, and provide motivation and guidance for future observations that will help address model and data gaps affecting our current understanding of the system.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [1];  [1];  [5]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Computer Science and Mathematics Division
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  4. Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, OR (United States)
  5. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States). Geophysical Inst.
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1327597
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Cryosphere (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1994-0424
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; hydrology; permafrost; tundra; modeling; PFLOTRAN

Citation Formats

Kumar, Jitendra, Collier, Nathan, Bisht, Gautam, Mills, Richard T., Thornton, Peter E., Iversen, Colleen M., and Romanovsky, Vladimir. Modeling the spatiotemporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.5194/tc-10-2241-2016.
Kumar, Jitendra, Collier, Nathan, Bisht, Gautam, Mills, Richard T., Thornton, Peter E., Iversen, Colleen M., & Romanovsky, Vladimir. Modeling the spatiotemporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape. United States. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2241-2016
Kumar, Jitendra, Collier, Nathan, Bisht, Gautam, Mills, Richard T., Thornton, Peter E., Iversen, Colleen M., and Romanovsky, Vladimir. 2016. "Modeling the spatiotemporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape". United States. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2241-2016. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1327597.
@article{osti_1327597,
title = {Modeling the spatiotemporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape},
author = {Kumar, Jitendra and Collier, Nathan and Bisht, Gautam and Mills, Richard T. and Thornton, Peter E. and Iversen, Colleen M. and Romanovsky, Vladimir},
abstractNote = {Vast carbon stocks stored in permafrost soils of Arctic tundra are under risk of release to the atmosphere under warming climate scenarios. Ice-wedge polygons in the low-gradient polygonal tundra create a complex mosaic of microtopographic features. This microtopography plays a critical role in regulating the fine-scale variability in thermal and hydrological regimes in the polygonal tundra landscape underlain by continuous permafrost. Modeling of thermal regimes of this sensitive ecosystem is essential for understanding the landscape behavior under the current as well as changing climate. Here, we present an end-to-end effort for high-resolution numerical modeling of thermal hydrology at real-world field sites, utilizing the best available data to characterize and parameterize the models. We also develop approaches to model the thermal hydrology of polygonal tundra and apply them at four study sites near Barrow, Alaska, spanning across low to transitional to high-centered polygons, representing a broad polygonal tundra landscape. A multiphase subsurface thermal hydrology model (PFLOTRAN) was developed and applied to study the thermal regimes at four sites. Using a high-resolution lidar digital elevation model (DEM), microtopographic features of the landscape were characterized and represented in the high-resolution model mesh. The best available soil data from field observations and literature were utilized to represent the complex heterogeneous subsurface in the numerical model. Simulation results demonstrate the ability of the developed modeling approach to capture – without recourse to model calibration – several aspects of the complex thermal regimes across the sites, and provide insights into the critical role of polygonal tundra microtopography in regulating the thermal dynamics of the carbon-rich permafrost soils. Moreover, areas of significant disagreement between model results and observations highlight the importance of field-based observations of soil thermal and hydraulic properties for modeling-based studies of permafrost thermal dynamics, and provide motivation and guidance for future observations that will help address model and data gaps affecting our current understanding of the system.},
doi = {10.5194/tc-10-2241-2016},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1327597}, journal = {The Cryosphere (Online)},
issn = {1994-0424},
number = 5,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {9}
}

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Works referenced in this record:

Using field observations to inform thermal hydrology models of permafrost dynamics with ATS (v0.83)
journal, January 2015


Calibration of hydrological model parameters for ungauged catchments
journal, January 2007


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A stochastic model for the polygonal tundra based on Poisson–Voronoi diagrams
journal, January 2013


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A distributed thermal model for calculating soil temperature profiles and depth of thaw in permafrost regions
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Controls over carbon storage and turnover in high-latitude soils
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journal, January 2014


Modeling the spatio-temporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape: Modeling Archive
dataset, January 2016

  • Kumar, Jitendra; Collier, Nathan; Bisht, Gautam
  • Next Generation Ecosystems Experiment - Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (US); NGEE Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  • https://doi.org/10.5440/1184018

The surface energy balance of a polygonal tundra site in northern Siberia – Part 1: Spring to fall
journal, January 2011


Nonlinear controls on evapotranspiration in arctic coastal wetlands
journal, January 2011


Pan-Arctic ice-wedge degradation in warming permafrost and its influence on tundra hydrology
journal, March 2016


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journal, January 2014


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dataset, January 2015

  • Peterson, John
  • Next Generation Ecosystems Experiment - Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (US); NGEE Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  • https://doi.org/10.5440/1171723

Soil carbon pools and world life zones
journal, July 1982


Permafrost thermal state in the polar Northern Hemisphere during the international polar year 2007-2009: a synthesis
journal, April 2010


Multi-objective calibration of a distributed hydrological model (WetSpa) using a genetic algorithm
journal, January 2009


Uncertainty-based multiobjective optimization of groundwater remediation design: PROBABILISTIC MULTIOBJECTIVE GA
journal, February 2008


Arctic tundra ice-wedge landscape characterization by active contours without edges and structural analysis using high-resolution satellite imagery
journal, November 2013


Using reactive transport codes to provide mechanistic biogeochemistry representations in global land surface models: CLM-PFLOTRAN 1.0
journal, January 2015


A subbasin-based framework to represent land surface processes in an Earth system model
journal, January 2014


Cold season emissions dominate the Arctic tundra methane budget
journal, December 2015


Modeling the spatio-temporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape: Modeling Archive
dataset, January 2016

  • Kumar, Jitendra; Collier, Nathan; Bisht, Gautam
  • Next Generation Ecosystems Experiment - Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (US); NGEE Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  • https://doi.org/10.5440/1184018

A subbasin-based framework to represent land surface processes in an Earth System Model
journal, January 2013


Journals unite for reproducibility
journal, November 2014


Using field observations to inform thermal hydrology models of permafrost dynamics with ATS (v0.83)
journal, January 2015


Multi-objective calibration of a distributed hydrological model (WetSpa) using a genetic algorithm
journal, January 2009


Works referencing / citing this record:

Modeling Climate Change Impacts on an Arctic Polygonal Tundra: 1. Rates of Permafrost Thaw Depend on Changes in Vegetation and Drainage
journal, May 2019


Development and Verification of a Numerical Library for Solving Global Terrestrial Multiphysics Problems
journal, June 2019


Mechanistic Modeling of Microtopographic Impacts on CO 2 and CH 4 Fluxes in an Alaskan Tundra Ecosystem Using the CLM‐Microbe Model
journal, December 2019


Observation and modelling of snow at a polygonal tundra permafrost site: spatial variability and thermal implications
journal, January 2018


Pathways of ice-wedge degradation in polygonal tundra under different hydrological conditions
journal, January 2019


Permafrost variability over the Northern Hemisphere based on the MERRA-2 reanalysis
journal, January 2019


Thaw processes in ice-rich permafrost landscapes represented with laterally coupled tiles in a land surface model
journal, January 2019


Modeling the spatio-temporal variability in subsurface thermal regimes across a low-relief polygonal tundra landscape: Modeling Archive
dataset, January 2016

  • Kumar, Jitendra; Collier, Nathan; Bisht, Gautam
  • Next Generation Ecosystems Experiment - Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (US); NGEE Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  • https://doi.org/10.5440/1184018

Mapping Arctic Plant Functional Type Distributions in the Barrow Environmental Observatory Using WorldView-2 and LiDAR Datasets
journal, September 2016