Freezing of the active layer on the coastal plain of the Alaskan Arctic

TitleFreezing of the active layer on the coastal plain of the Alaskan Arctic
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsOsterkamp, TE, Romanovsky, VE
Date PublishedJan-Mar
ISBN Number1045-6740
Keywordsactive layer, co2, heat, microbes, moisture, northern alaska, Permafrost, snowpack, soils, temperatures, thermal diffusivity, trace gases, unfrozen water

Upward freezing from the bottom of the active layer started at the end of August or beginning of September when the ground surface temperature was above 0 degrees C. About one-third of the active layer froze upwards at the West Dock, Deadhorse and Franklin Bluffs sites. Temperatures were warmer than -1 degrees C at the maximum depth of the active layer 20 days after the freeze-up date with the temperature maximum near the base of the active layer. This behaviour was caused by unfrozen water in the active layer and near-surface permafrost. A numerical model was used to determine the most appropriate unfrozen water content curves at each site. Modelling also indicates that a layer with increased unfrozen water content existed during cooling of the active layer following freeze-up and during warming prior to thawing. At the Deadhorse site, this layer continued from the ground surface to a depth of 0.3 m in 1987 and 0.36 m in 1991. For Franklin Bluffs in 1987, for West Dock in 1988, and for Barrow in 1993 the thickness of this layer was 0.1 m and it was located between 0.2 and 0.3 m at Franklin Bluffs, between 0.15 and 0.25 m at West Dock, and between 0.21 and 0.31 m at Barrow. The unfrozen water contents for these lavers were relatively large at low temperatures. Analytical calculations of the apparent thermal diffusivity showed that its observed variations with temperature were due to the latent heat effects of the unfrozen water. Microbial activity and trace gas evolution during the winter may be influenced by the presence of the unfrozen water. (C) 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

URL<Go to ISI>://A1997XF02700002