Soil moisture and hydrology projections of the permafrost region – a model intercomparison

TitleSoil moisture and hydrology projections of the permafrost region – a model intercomparison
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsAndresen, Christian, David M. Lawrence, Cathy J. Wilson, David A. McGuire, Charles Koven, Kevin Schaefer, Elchin Jafarov, Shushi Peng, Xiaodong Chen, Isabelle Gouttevin, Eleanor Burke, Sarah Chadburn, Duoying Ji, Guangsheng Chen, Daniel Hayes, and Wenxin Zhang
Pagination445 - 459
Date Published01/2020

This study investigates and compares soil moisture and hydrology projections of broadly used land models with permafrost processes and highlights the causes and impacts of permafrost zone soil moisture projections. Climate models project warmer temperatures and increases in precipitation (P) which will intensify evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff in land models. However, this study shows that most models project a long-term drying of the surface soil (0–20 cm) for the permafrost region despite increases in the net air–surface water flux (P-ET). Drying is generally explained by infiltration of moisture to deeper soil layers as the active layer deepens or permafrost thaws completely. Although most models agree on drying, the projections vary strongly in magnitude and spatial pattern. Land models tend to agree with decadal runoff trends but underestimate runoff volume when compared to gauge data across the major Arctic river basins, potentially indicating model structural limitations. Coordinated efforts to address the ongoing challenges presented in this study will help reduce uncertainty in our capability to predict the future Arctic hydrological state and associated land–atmosphere biogeochemical processes across spatial and temporal scales.