Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1790
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1790
28 Jun 2024
 | 28 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Impact of livestock activity on near-surface ground temperatures in Mongolia

Robin B. Zweigel, Avirmed Dashtseren, Khurelbaatar Temuujin, Anarmaa Sharkhuu, Clare Webster, Hanna Lee, and Sebastian Westermann

Abstract. Grazing by livestock can alter the surface conditions at grassland sites, impacting the transfer of energy between the atmosphere and ground and consequentially ground temperatures. In this study, we investigate surface cover in summer and winter and measure ground surface temperatures over 14 months at sites in Central Mongolia that feature different grazing intensities (intensely and ungrazed) and topographic aspects (north- and south-facing). Overall, intense grazing leads to a substantially reduced vegetation cover, altered snow conditions and lack of surface litter accumulation. Comparing  intensely grazed and ungrazed plots shows large seasonal differences in ground surface temperatures, with grazed plots being up to +5.1 °C warmer in summer and −5.4 °C colder in winter at a south-facing site. We find smaller seasonal differences of +1.4 °C and −2.5 °C between grazed and ungrazed plots at a north-facing site which receives less solar radiation and where differences in vegetation cover between open and fenced plots are smaller. For both aspects, the seasonal differences largely offset each other, with both a small net cooling and warming depending on effects in spring and autumn. Our study suggests that livestock management might be used to modify the annual ground temperature dynamics, possibly even influencing local permafrost dynamics.

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Robin B. Zweigel, Avirmed Dashtseren, Khurelbaatar Temuujin, Anarmaa Sharkhuu, Clare Webster, Hanna Lee, and Sebastian Westermann

Status: open (until 20 Aug 2024)

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Robin B. Zweigel, Avirmed Dashtseren, Khurelbaatar Temuujin, Anarmaa Sharkhuu, Clare Webster, Hanna Lee, and Sebastian Westermann
Robin B. Zweigel, Avirmed Dashtseren, Khurelbaatar Temuujin, Anarmaa Sharkhuu, Clare Webster, Hanna Lee, and Sebastian Westermann

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Short summary
Intense grazing at grassland sites removes vegetation, reduces the snow cover, and inhibits litter layers from forming. Grazed sites generally have a larger annual ground surface temperature amplitude than ungrazed sites, but the net effect depends on effects in the transitional seasons. Our results also suggest that seasonal use of pastures can reduce ground temperatures, which can be a strategy to protect currently degrading grassland permafrost.