Impacts of Vegetation on the Decoupling between Air and Soil Temperatures across the Arctic

Julia.Boike [ at ]


A rise in global air temperatures is expected to increase permafrost thaw and alter ecosystem carbon and water cycles in Arctic regions. The coupling between the soil temperature in the active layer (soil between the ground surface and permafrost) and air temperature is a key component in understanding permafrost stability and ecosystem change. Vegetation can affect soil temperature through a variety of mechanisms such as canopy shading, impacts on soil thermal conductivity via soil organic inputs or soil water uptake, albedo, and winter snow trapping. However, the relative importance of the vegetative effects on soil temperature is uncertain across large spatial scales and across different vegetative communities and ecosystem types. We compiled data on a Pan-Arctic scale pairing air and soil temperature with vegetation and ecosystem data to examine the impacts of vegetation on the decoupling of air and soil temperatures. We analyzed the summer thawing degree days, winter freezing degree days, and n factors (degree days soil/degree days air) from sites across the Arctic. Our results indicate that the decoupling between summer air and soil temperatures is more variable in boreal ecosystems than tundra ecosystems, and boreal ecosystems have lower winter n-factors than tundra ecosystems. Summer n-factors were more variable than winter n-factors, and had high variability within study sites. Vegetative and ecosystem characteristics can be key drivers of spatial and temporal variability in active layer soil temperature, particularly during the summer. Quantifying the impacts of vegetation on active layer temperature is critical to understanding how changes in vegetation under climate change can further affect permafrost stability and soil temperature.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
AGU Fall Meeting, 12 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016, San Francisco.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Kropp, H. , Loranty, M. , Natali, S. , Kholodov, A. , Abbott, B. , Abermann, J. , Blanc-Betes, E. , Blok, D. , Blume-Werry, G. , Boike, J. , Cahoon, C. , Christiansen, C. , Euskirchen, E. , Frost, G. , Goeckede, M. , Gough, L. , Hjorth, J. , Hoje, T. , Jones, B. , Jorgenson, T. , Juszak, I. , Kokelj, S. , Lund, M. , Lafleur, P. , Mamet, S. , Mauritz, M. , Michelsen, A. , Myers-Smith, I. , O'Donnell, J. , Olefeldt, D. , Phoenix, G. , Rocha, A. , Sannel, B. , Schaepman-Strub, G. , Sonnentag, O. , Tape, K. , Torn, M. , Smith Vaughn, L. , Sorensen, M. , Williams, M. and Wilson, C. (2016): Impacts of Vegetation on the Decoupling between Air and Soil Temperatures across the Arctic , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, 12 December 2016 - 16 December 2016 .


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