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Relation between snow and winter soil-surface temperatures in tundra landscapes: Results of observations in northern Alaska Open Access

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Continuous spatial monitoring of air and soil-surface temperatures under natural covers (vegetation and snow) was conducted at an array of Arctic Alaskan sites representing a range of undisturbed tundra landscapes since 1995. This data set was utilized to assess the complex relation between snow cover and the winter ground-surface temperature regime. Snow cover has a strong influence on soil-surface temperatures during the winter by slowing the heat transfer between the atmosphere and ground. A range of direct observational methods and analytical techniques was used to assess snow thickness and duration. The annual duration of snow cover at each site was determined by calculating change in soil-surface temperature amplitudes. A vertical array of Thermochron IButton® temperature loggers, arranged from the soil-surface to 1 meter above the surface and time-lapse digital cameras were installed at observational sites in 2010-2012 to assess snow depth. Supplementary snow-depth information derived from direct observations and winter precipitations obtained from nearby USDA SNOTEL sites was used to estimate snow depth during the study period. The snow and soil-surface temperature records were used to calculate several indexes (e.g., n-factors, temperature/degree days offsets, etc.) suitable for quantitative assessment of the temporal and spatial variability in the interaction between snow and soil-surface temperatures in characteristic tundra landscapes of the North Slope of Alaska.

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