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Vegetation Influences on the Permafrost System: Temperature Monitoring on the North Slope of Alaska

Authors: Anna Zhu*, George Washington University, Kelsey Nyland, George Washington University, Anna Klene, University of Montana
Topics: Cryosphere, Polar Regions, Physical Geography
Keywords: Permafrost, Arctic Greening, Vegetation, Climate Change, Temperature Monitoring, Alaska, Arctic
Session Type: Guided Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This study aims to analyze the extent to which different categories of Northern Alaskan tundra vegetation affect the soil-surface thermal regime. The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) network has a series of sites representative of diverse landscapes along a north-south climatic gradient where air and soil-surface temperatures have been continuously monitored over the last 25 years (1995-2019). Analysis of the degree of insulation given by representative vegetation types is based on differences between air and soil-surface temperatures in the summer months. These thermal differences are also examined over the 25-year study period in conjunction with active layer depth to evaluate the impact on the permafrost system. The study of the thermal effects of vegetation and how this relationship is changing under a warming climate can contribute to our understanding of “Arctic greening”. Arctic greening describes the thickening of herbaceous layers and northward encroachment of larger woody species into tundra environments as a result of warmer and longer growing seasons. These changes can lead to positive and negative thermal feedbacks which this study will characterize in a range of tundra landscapes.

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