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This project is funded by NSF ARC grant 0612431
Rather than provide component-based analysis of specific surface-atmosphere interactions, we are investigating how the synoptic-scale circulation of the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere drives, and is driven by, changes in the freeze/thaw cycle in the Russian Arctic. The integrated effects of the atmosphere provide a first-order driver of changes in the distribution of frozen ground. Our work thus addresses a missing link in the Arctic climate system—the interactions between the largest cryospheric component, frozen ground, and regional to large-scale variations in the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere.
We hypothesize that:
Oliver W. Frauenfeld is the PI, and Tingjun Zhang and Mark C. Serreze are Co-Investigators.
Accelerated and amplified changes have characterized the northern high latitude climate system in recent decades. While many important processes that are driving, and driven by, Arctic climate change have been extensively studied, one area of research that has received relatively less attention involves quantifying and accounting for large-scale changes in the extent and distribution of frozen ground, both permafrost and seasonally frozen ground. Frozen ground covers up to 50.5 percent of the Northern Hemisphere land areas, and the near-surface soil freeze/thaw cycle extends over an even larger area. Frozen ground is therefore the single largest component of the cryosphere in terms of maximum area extent. The existence of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground is due to heat exchange between the ground surface and the overlying atmosphere, and the area extent and geographic distribution is therefore primarily forced by climate.
We are applying multivariate statistical analyses and modeling approaches to establish the patterns of variability and covariability in fields of soil temperature and freeze/thaw depth, and a number of atmospheric circulation variables—teleconnections, the polar vortex, and surface and tropospheric circulation fields. Snow cover and vegetation fields are being analyzed to establish the precise interactions, feedbacks, and pathways linking the soil thermal regime and atmospheric circulation.
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