Faculté des sciences

Permafrost model sensitivity to seasonal climatic changes and extreme events in mountainous regions

Marmy, Antoine ; Salzmann, Nadine ; Scherler, Martin ; Hauck, Christian

In: Environmental Research Letters, 2013, vol. 8, no. 3, p. 035048

Climate models project considerable ranges and uncertainties in future climatic changes. To assess the potential impacts of climatic changes on mountain permafrost within these ranges of uncertainty, this study presents a sensitivity analysis using a permafrost process model combined with climate input based on delta-change approaches. Delta values comprise a multitude of coupled air temperature... Plus

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    Summary
    Climate models project considerable ranges and uncertainties in future climatic changes. To assess the potential impacts of climatic changes on mountain permafrost within these ranges of uncertainty, this study presents a sensitivity analysis using a permafrost process model combined with climate input based on delta-change approaches. Delta values comprise a multitude of coupled air temperature and precipitation changes to analyse long-term, seasonal and seasonal extreme changes on a typical low-ice content mountain permafrost location in the Swiss Alps. The results show that seasonal changes in autumn (SON) have the largest impact on the near-surface permafrost thermal regime in the model, and lowest impacts in winter (DJF). For most of the variability, snow cover duration and timing are the most important factors, whereas maximum snow height only plays a secondary role unless maximum snow heights are very small. At least for the low-ice content site of this study, extreme events have only short-term effects and have less impact on permafrost than long-term air temperature trends.