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Title: Effect of soil property uncertainties on permafrost thaw projections: A calibration-constrained analysis

The effect of soil property uncertainties on permafrost thaw projections are studied using a three-phase subsurface thermal hydrology model and calibration-constrained uncertainty analysis. The Null-Space Monte Carlo method is used to identify soil hydrothermal parameter combinations that are consistent with borehole temperature measurements at the study site, the Barrow Environmental Observatory. Each parameter combination is then used in a forward projection of permafrost conditions for the 21st century (from calendar year 2006 to 2100) using atmospheric forcings from the Community Earth System Model (CESM) in the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 greenhouse gas concentration trajectory. A 100-year projection allows for the evaluation of intra-annual uncertainty due to soil properties and the inter-annual variability due to year to year differences in CESM climate forcings. After calibrating to borehole temperature data at this well-characterized site, soil property uncertainties are still significant and result in significant intra-annual uncertainties in projected active layer thickness and annual thaw depth-duration even with a specified future climate. Intra-annual uncertainties in projected soil moisture content and Stefan number are small. A volume and time integrated Stefan number decreases significantly in the future climate, indicating that latent heat of phase change becomes more important than heat conduction in futuremore » climates. Out of 10 soil parameters, ALT, annual thaw depth-duration, and Stefan number are highly dependent on mineral soil porosity, while annual mean liquid saturation of the active layer is highly dependent on the mineral soil residual saturation and moderately dependent on peat residual saturation. As a result, by comparing the ensemble statistics to the spread of projected permafrost metrics using different climate models, we show that the effect of calibration-constrained uncertainty in soil properties, although significant, is less than that produced by structural climate model uncertainty for this location.« less
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1994-0440
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Cryosphere Discussions
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1994-0440
European Geosciences Union
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; permafrost; uncertainty; hydrology
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1234713