The Cryosphere Discuss., 4, 1877-1908, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC.
Modelling past and future permafrost conditions in Svalbard
B. Etzelmüller1, T. V. Schuler1, K. Isaksen2, H. H. Christiansen1,3, H. Farbrot1, and R. Benestad2
1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
2Norwegian Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 43, Blindern, 0313 Oslo, Norway
3The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), P.O. Box 156, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway

Abstract. Variations in ground thermal conditions in Svalbard were studied based on measurements and theoretical calculations. Ground temperature data was used to calibrate a transient heat flow model describing depth and time variations in temperatures. The model was subsequently forced with historical surface air temperature data records and downscaled global climate model runs to project ground temperatures. We discuss ground temperature development since the early 20th century, and the thermal responses in relation to ground characteristics and snow cover. The modelled ground temperatures show a gradually increase since the end of the Little Ice Age (mid 19th century on Svalbard), by about 1.5 °C to 2 °C at 20 m depth. The active layer thickness (ALT) is modelled to have increased slightly, with the rate of increase depending on water content of the near-surface layers. The used scenario runs predict a significant increase in ground temperatures and an increase of ALT depending on soil characteristics.

Citation: Etzelmüller, B., Schuler, T. V., Isaksen, K., Christiansen, H. H., Farbrot, H., and Benestad, R.: Modelling past and future permafrost conditions in Svalbard, The Cryosphere Discuss., 4, 1877-1908, doi:10.5194/tcd-4-1877-2010, 2010.
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