Sensitivity evaluation of the Kudryavtsev permafrost model

TitleSensitivity evaluation of the Kudryavtsev permafrost model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsWang, Kang, Elchin Jafarov, and Irina Overeem
Date Published01/2020
KeywordsAlaska, climate, model, permafrost, soil, thermal regime

Modeling is an important way to assess current and future permafrost spatial distribution and dynamics, especially in data poor areas like the Arctic region. Here, we evaluate a physics-based analytical model, Kudryavtsev's active layer model, which is widely used because it has relatively few data requirements. This model was recently incorporated into a component modeling toolbox, allowing for coupled modeling of permafrost and geomorphic processes over geological timescales. However, systematic quantitative assessment of the influence of its controlling parameters on permafrost temperature and active layer thickness predictions has not been undertaken before. We investigate the sensitivity of the Kudryavtsev's active layer model by Monte Carlo simulations to generate probability distributions for input parameters and compare predictions with a comprehensive benchmark dataset of in-situ permafrost observations over entire Alaska. Predicted permafrost surface temperature is highly dependent on mean annual air temperature (r = 0.78 on average), annual temperature amplitude (−0.41), and winter-averaged snow thickness (0.30). Uncertainty of predicted permafrost temperature is relatively small (RMSE = 1 °C), when air temperature and snow depth are well constrained. Similarly, RMSE between simulated and observed ALT at stations is ~0.08 m. However, under given air temperature and snow conditions, soil water content bias can significantly affect modeled active layer thickness (RMSE = 0.1 m or 40% of the observed active layer thickness). If soil water content has a large bias, improvements in other parameters may not significantly improve the active layer predictions of the Kudryavtsev's model.