Biogeophysical controls on soil-atmosphere thermal differences: implications on warming Arctic ecosystems

Abstract : Soil temperature (ST) has a key role in Arctic ecosystem functioning and global environmental change. However, soil thermal conditions do not necessarily follow synoptic temperature variations. This is because local biogeophysical processes can lead to a pronounced soil-atmosphere thermal offset (∆T) while altering the coupling (βT) between ST and ambient air temperature (AAT). Here, we aim to uncover the spatiotemporal variation in these parameters and identify their main environmental drivers. By deploying a unique network of 322 temperature loggers and surveying biogeophysical processes across an Arctic landscape, we found that the spatial variation in ∆T during the AAT≤0 period (mean ∆T = 6.0 °C, standard deviation ± 1.2 °C) was directly and indirectly constrained by local topography controlling snow depth. By contrast, during the AAT>0 period, ∆T was controlled by soil characteristics, vegetation and solar radiation (∆T = −0.6 °C ± 1.0 °C). Importantly, ∆T was not constant throughout the seasons reflecting the influence of βT on the rate of local soil warming being stronger after (mean βT = 0.8 ± 0.1) than before (βT = 0.2 ± 0.2) snowmelt. Our results highlight the need for continuous microclimatic and local environmental monitoring, and suggest a potential for large buffering and non-uniform warming of snow-dominated Arctic ecosystems under projected temperature increase.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 10:23:37 PM
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Juha Aalto, Daniel Scherrer, Jonathan Lenoir, Antoine Guisan, Miska Luoto. Biogeophysical controls on soil-atmosphere thermal differences: implications on warming Arctic ecosystems. Environmental Research Letters, IOP Publishing, 2018, 13 (7), pp.074003. ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/aac83e⟩. ⟨hal-02352630⟩

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