Modelled Soil Temperature Sensitivity to Variable Snow and Vegetation Conditions in Low-Relief Coastal Mountains, Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut, Labrador

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Rosamond Tutton, Robert Way, Ryley Beddoe, Yu Zhang, Andrew Trant


Understanding permafrost vulnerability and resilience to climate warming is critical for predicting impacts on northern communities and ecosystems. The thermal characteristics of near-surface permafrost are influenced by effects from overlying vegetation and snow cover, both of which are changing in northern environments. The association between vegetation and snow is important in the coastal mountains of Labrador, northeast Canada, because of high annual snowfall totals and greening tundra biomes. In this study, we present a series of one-dimensional simulations using the Northern Ecosystem Soil Temperature (NEST) model to characterize ground thermal conditions at two field sites (Nain, Nunatsiavut & Pinware, NunatuKavut) along the Labrador coast. NEST simulations covering 1979-2019 were run using ERA5 atmospheric reanalysis for three ecotypes (tundra, shrub, treed) with three different snow accumulation regimes (snow drifting away from site, no snow drift, snow drifting to site). At Nain, perennially frozen ground was present for all three ecotypes when snow cover was kept thin (drifting away) but was largely absent for the ecotypes when snow accumulation was higher. At Pinware, frozen ground was mostly absent except where snow cover was shallow (wind drifting away). For low-snow simulations, frozen bodies (< 20 m) persisted in all ecotypes during cold periods but only remained intact following warmer years for treed ecotypes. These results highlight the importance of spatial and temporal variability in snow cover on ground thermal regimes in coastal Labrador.



Other Applied Mathematics, Other Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Vegetation, Coastal, Permafrost, Vegetation, Snow-trapping, Labrador, Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut, Coastal, Labrador


Published: 2021-05-24 18:33

Last Updated: 2021-05-25 01:33


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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