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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-134
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-134
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Jul 2016

Submitted as: research article | 06 Jul 2016

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Effects of Seasonal Snow Cover on Hydrothermal Conditions of the Active Layer in the Northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Ji Chen1,2, Yu Sheng1, Qingbai Wu1,2, Lin Zhao3, Jing Li1, and Jingyi Zhao1,2 Ji Chen et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 2Beiluhe Observation Station of Frozen soil Environment and Engineering, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 3Cryosphere Research Station on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China

Abstract. Snow cover significantly influences the moisture and thermal properties of the active layer in permafrost regions. Seasonal snow cover, soil temperature, and moisture were monitored in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) from December 2012 to February 2015. According to field data, the following conclusions were drawn. (1) The snow season in this region is predominantly during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), the thickness of individual snowfall events is usually less than 5 cm, and the duration of land surface snow cover is generally no longer than 5 days. (2) Removal of seasonal snow cover is beneficial for cooling the active layer in a whole year and in other seasons with the exception of summer. Further analysis on the ground temperature in the active layer shows that the cooling effect of the snow removal maybe results from the high thermal resistivity of snow, the delay of snowfall time in autumn, and the drastic decrease of moisture content in the active layer. (3) Seasonal snow cover maintains the high water content of the active layer. Snow removal can therefore lead to a rapid decrease of soil moisture content. A small decrease in water content of the active layer at the natural snow site (NSS) is related with less rainfall during the monitoring period. Significant differences between the NSS and the snow removal site (SRS) may depend predominantly on the inhibitory action of snow cover on the evaporation capacity of surface soil because of its cooling and shading effects during the daytime and in summer.

Ji Chen et al.
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Ji Chen et al.
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Short summary
The extreme thin and short-time snow cover in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau is predominantly during spring and autumn. Removal of seasonal snow cover is beneficial for cooling the active layer in the first few years. Seasonal snow cover maintains the high water content of the active layer because of the inhibitory action of snow cover on the evaporation capacity in the natural site during the daytime and in summer. Snow removal can therefore lead to a rapid decrease of soil moisture.
The extreme thin and short-time snow cover in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau is...
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