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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 2935-2966, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Oct 2011
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). A final paper in TC is not foreseen.
Transfer function models to quantify the delay between air and ground temperatures in thawed active layers
E. Zenklusen Mutter1, J. Blanchet2, and M. Phillips1
1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Flüelastrasse 11, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
2École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. Air temperatures influence ground temperatures with a certain delay, which increases with depth. Borehole temperatures measured at 0.5 m depth in Alpine permafrost and air temperatures measured at or near the boreholes have been used to model this dependency. Statistical transfer function models have been fitted to the daily difference series of air and ground temperatures measured at seven different permafrost sites in the Swiss Alps.

The relation between air and ground temperature is influenced by various factors such as ground surface cover, snow depth, water or ground ice content. To avoid complications induced by the insulating properties of the snow cover and by phase changes in the ground, only the mostly snow-free summer period when the ground at 0.5 m depth is thawed has been considered here. All summers from 2006 to 2009 have been analysed, with the main focus on summer 2006.

The results reveal that in summer 2006 daily air temperature changes influence ground temperatures at 0.5 m depth with a delay ranging from one to six days, depending on the site. The fastest response times are found for a very coarse grained, blocky rock glacier site whereas slower response times are found for blocky scree slopes with smaller grain sizes.

Citation: Zenklusen Mutter, E., Blanchet, J., and Phillips, M.: Transfer function models to quantify the delay between air and ground temperatures in thawed active layers, The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 2935-2966, doi:10.5194/tcd-5-2935-2011, 2011.
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