Modelling and mapping climate change impacts on permafrost at high spatial resolution for a region with complex terrain
1Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0Y7, Canada
2Parks Canada Agency, Hull, Quebec, K1A 0M5, Canada
3Western and Northern Service Centre, Parks Canada Agency, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0R9, Canada
Abstract. Most spatial modelling of climate change impacts on permafrost has been conducted at half-degree latitude/longitude or coarser spatial resolution. At such coarse resolution, topographic effects on insolation cannot be considered accurately and the modelling results are difficult to use for land managers and ecologists. Here we mapped climate change impacts on permafrost from 1968 to 2100 at 10 m resolution using a process-based model for Ivvavik National Park, a region with complex terrain in northern Yukon, Canada. Soil and drainage conditions were defined based on ecosystem types, which were mapped using SPOT imagery, a digital elevation model and field observations. Leaf area indices were mapped using Landsat imagery and the ecosystem map. Climate distribution was estimated based on elevation and station observations, and the effects of topography on insolation were estimated based on slope, aspect and viewshed. To reduce computation time, we clustered climate distribution and topographic effects on insolation into discrete types. The modelled active-layer thickness and permafrost distribution were comparable with field observations and other studies, demonstrating that it is practical to model and map climate change impacts on permafrost at high spatial resolution for areas with complex terrain. The map portrayed large variations in active-layer thickness, with ecosystem types being the most important controlling variable, followed by climate, including topographic effects on insolation. This study also shows that climate scenarios and ground conditions are the major sources of uncertainty for high resolution permafrost mapping.