Abstracts on Global Climate Change
       

Jan 2004

Observations on permafrost ground thermal regimes from Antarctica and the Italian Alps, and their relevance to global climate change

Guglielmin, M

GLOBAL AND PLANETARY CHANGE 40:1-2 159-167

Active-layer monitoring and the permafrost thermal regime are key indicators of climate change. The results of 3 years (1997-1999) of active-layer monitoring at one high-mountain site (La Foppa, 46degrees28’ 42” N; 10degrees11’ 18” E, 2670 m a.s.l.) and at one Antarctic site (Boulder Clay, 74degrees44’ 45” S; 164degrees01’ 17” E, 205 m a.s.l) are presented. The initial analysis of a thermal profile in a borehole (100.3 m deep) within mountain permafrost at Stelvio (3000 m a.s.l., 46degrees30’ 59”N; 10degrees28’ 35” E) is also presented. At the alpine site, the active-layer thickness variations (between 193 and 229 cm) relate to both the snow cover and to the air temperature changes. By contrast, at the Antarctic site, there is a strong direct linkage only between air temperature fluctuations and active-layer variations. At the alpine (La Foppa) site, the relationship between climate and active-layer thickness is complicated by thermal offset that is almost negligible at both the Stelvio and Antarctic sites. The permafrost temperature profile at Stelvio site contains a climate signal suitable for paleoclimate reconstruction. The permafrost at this site has a mean annual ground surface temperature (MAGST) of - 1.9degreesC (during 1998/1999), an active layer of about 2.5 in thick and a total thickness of - 200 m. Analysis of the MAGST history, obtained by applying a simple heat conduction one-dimensional model, revealed the occurrence of a cold period from 1820 to 1940 followed by a warming period until 1978. Since the beginning of the 1980s, temperature dropped (less than 2degreesC) until the middle 1990s, when a new period of warming started. All these climatic changes fit well with the glacial fluctuations in the area and with other paleoclimatic information derived from different proxy data. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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