Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-473
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-473
 
13 Jun 2022
13 Jun 2022
Status: the discussion of this preprint has been stopped.

The evolution of Arctic permafrost over the last three centuries

Moritz Langer1,2, Jan Nitzbon1,3, Brian Groenke1,4, Lisa-Marie Assmann1, Thomas Schneider von Deimling1,2, Simone Maria Stuenzi1, and Sebastian Westermann5 Moritz Langer et al.
  • 1Permafrost Research Section, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Paleoclimate Dynamics Section, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 4Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 5Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Understanding the future evolution of permafrost requires a better understanding of its climatological past. This requires permafrost models to efficiently simulate the thermal dynamics of permafrost over the past centuries to millennia, taking into account highly uncertain soil and snow properties. In this study, we present a computationally efficient numerical permafrost model which satisfactorily reproduces the current thermal state of permafrost in the Arctic and its recent trend over the last decade. Also, the active layer dynamics and its trend is realistically captured. The performed simulations provide insights into the evolution of permafrost since the 18th century and show that permafrost on the North American continent is subject to early degradation, while permafrost on the Eurasian continent is relatively stable over the investigated 300-year period. Permafrost warming since industrialization has occurred primarily in three "hotspot" regions in northeastern Canada, northern Alaska, and, to a lesser extent, western Siberia. The extent of near-surface permafrost has changed substantially since the 18th century. In particular, loss of continuous permafrost has accelerated from low (−0.10 × 105 km2 dec−1) to moderate (−0.77 × 105 km2 dec−1) rates for the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively. In the 20th century, the loss rate nearly doubled (−1.36 × 105 km2 dec−1), with the highest near-surface permafrost losses occurring in the last 50 years. Our simulations further indicate that climate disturbances due to large volcanic eruptions in the Northern Hemisphere, can only counteract near-surface permafrost loss for a relatively short period of a few decades. Despite some limitations, the presented model shows great potential for further investigation of the climatological past of permafrost, especially in conjunction with paleoclimate modeling.

Moritz Langer et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-473', Francisco José Cuesta-Valero, 13 Jun 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Moritz Langer, 22 Jun 2022

Moritz Langer et al.

Data sets

CryoGridLite: Model output of pan-Arctic simulations at 1° resolution from 1700 to 2020 Moritz Langer, Jan Nitzbon, Alexander Oehme https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6619260

CryoGridLite: Model input for pan-Arctic simulations at 1° resolution from 1700 to 2020 Moritz Langer, Jan Nitzbon, Alexander Oehme https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6619212

Model code and software

CryoGridLite: Model code for pan-Arctic simulations at 1° resolution from 1700 to 2020 Moritz Langer, Jan Nitzbon, Alexander Oehme https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6619537

Moritz Langer et al.

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Short summary
We present a model capable of simulating the evolution of Arctic permafrost over centuries to millennia, taking into account highly uncertain soil and snow properties. We find that permafrost warming occurs primarily in three "hotspot" regions. The extent of near-surface permafrost has decreased substantially since 1850, with the largest area losses occurring in the last 50 years. Volcanic eruptions were shown to have counteracted the loss of near-surface permafrost for only a few decades.