Samoylov Island Observatory - possibilities of controlled high precision instrumentation to obtain new insights in environmental conditions of the high arctic lowland tundra

peter.schreiber [ at ]


Samoylov Island and its surrounding areas of the Lena River Delta serve as a baseline observatory for the validation and development of remote sensing products and climate models in the Arctic. The observatory is located in a typical high latitude lowland tundra landscape and hence represents one of the dominating and most important landscape types in the Arctic. The observatory is equipped with leading edge environmental monitoring systems which are used to observe changes in permafrost and soils, vegetation, boundary layer meteorology, soil/water biology, energy- and trace gas fluxes, geomorphology, and snow cover. Samoylov Island is located in the Lena River Delta in North Siberia (72°22' N, 126°30 E), and features a surface area off about 5 km². The continuous permafrost in the area reaches depths of 500 to 600 m. The investigation area is mainly located on a Late Holocene river terrace. The landscape is characterized by wet polygonal tundra which is typical for circumpolar lowlands. The climate is characterized by an average temperature of -12.5 °C with mean temperatures of -33.1 °C in February and 10.5 °C in July. The surface temperature is respectively cold with a mean annual value of -10.1 °C and the average temperature of the active layer is -8.4 °C (at 0.03 m depth). In August the mean thaw depth reaches 0.5 m. Within the last 9 years a continuous warming of the permafrost is observed (about 2.3 °C in 10.75 m depth and 1 °C in 20.75 m depth). The average summertime rainfall is about 125 mm with strong interannual differences. Snow water equivalent adds app. 30 % to the total precipitation. The snow free period usually lasts from the beginning of June to the mid of September. The total vegetation is dominated by mosses and lichen covering about 95% of the surface while vascular plants coverer about 30 %. Since 1998, the observatory delivers one of the most valuable databases for the implementation of permafrost processes into land surface schemes of IPCC global climate models. Furthermore, extensive validation studies on thermal remote sensing (MODIS LST), snow products (GlobSnow), land surface classification (Landsat), and SAR satellite products (ASCAT Soil Moisture, TerraSAR-X) were implemented successfully. For the first time, operational satellite-based permafrost monitoring was developed and tested at the Samoylov observatory. The excellent infrastructure of the observatory now will be enhanced by the HGF road map project 'Advanced Remote Sensing – Ground-Truth Demo and Test Facilities' (ACROSS, which focuses on the establishment of state of the art monitoring stations for testing new satellite sensors, model schemes, and scaling techniques. With the focus to provide outstanding research possibilities we designed a field laboratory to run high precision scientific instruments in a controlled environment. Away from any influence of the nearby Artic Research station a streamlined igloo-shaped, temperature controlled and power backed up lab container will placed in the middle of the Samoylov Island next to various already installed automated environmental observatories. Already installed is a safeguarded power supply from the Arctic research station and a boardwalk to the undisturbed investigation area. Together with a new 10 meters high research tower with several instrumentation platforms this new field lab will run within an area of still ongoing long time observations of the permafrost environment. While the placement of the tower is scheduled for April 2016, the field laboratory is planned to be installed in July 2016. In the future the notably load-bearing tower will be equipped with high performance devices to measure several meteorological and micrometeorological parameters at different heights while the lab igloo will provide 15 m³ of space to place various instruments in a professional rack-infrastructure. Samoylov Island has great potential to become a leading edge, multi-disciplinary observatory for the validation and development of remote sensing products and earth system models for terrestrial Arctic ecosystems. We will present the development status of the new field lab facilities and will discuss the future possibilities to raise new research projects there. To frame this we will provide an overview of the already achieved longtime measurement results from main meteorological, soil and snow observatories since 1998.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
XI. International Conference on Permafrost, 20 Jun 2016 - 24 Jun 2016, Potsdam.
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Cite as
Schreiber, P. , Langer, M. , Bornemann, N. and Boike, J. (2016): Samoylov Island Observatory - possibilities of controlled high precision instrumentation to obtain new insights in environmental conditions of the high arctic lowland tundra , XI. International Conference on Permafrost, Potsdam, 20 June 2016 - 24 June 2016 .


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