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Soil climate and permafrost temperature monitoring in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica

A soil climate monitoring network, consisting of seven automated weather stations, was established between 1999 and 2003 in the McMurdo Sound region of Antarctica. Soil temperature, soil water content, air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction are recorded hourly and downloaded annually. Two 30 m deep permafrost temperature monitoring boreholes were established adjacent to the soil climate stations in the Wright Valley and at Marble Point in January 2007. Sixteen thermistors (accurate to ±0.1°C) were installed in each borehole measuring temperature once every hour and recording the mean every six hours. One year of permafrost temperatures were available (January 2007 to January 2008). The overall aim of this thesis was to make use of the soil climate monitoring database from 1999 to 2007 to investigate Antarctic soil climate. Active layer depth (depth of thawing) varied inter-annually, with no significant trend between 1999 and 2007. The active layer increased with decreasing latitude (R2 = 0.94), and decreased with increasing altitude (R2 = 0.95). A multiple regression model was produced whereby active layer depth was predicted as a function of mean summer air temperature, mean winter air temperature, total summer solar radiation and mean summer wind speed (R2 = 0.73). Annual temperature cycles were observed at all depths in the boreholes. At Marble Point, an annual temperature range of lt;1°C occurred at 15.2 m, lt;0.5°C at 18.4 m and lt;0.1°C at 26.4 m and at Wright Valley, an annual temperature range of lt;1°C occurred at 14.0 m, lt;0.5°C at 17.2 m and lt;0.1°C at 25.2 m. Given that the depth of Zero Annual Amplitude determined depends on the sensitivity of the measurement method, it is suggested that instead of referring to a depth of Zero Annual Amplitude , the depth at which the annual temperature range is less than a given value is a more useful concept. Mean annual and mean seasonal air and soil temperatures varied inter-annually and there was no significant trend of warming or cooling over the 1999 - 2007 period. Mean annual air temperatures were primarily influenced by winter air temperatures. Mean annual and mean summer soil temperatures were warmer than air temperatures due to heating by solar radiation. Mean summer air temperatures correlated well with the Southern Annular Mode Index (SAMI) at all sites (0.61 lt; R2 lt; 0.73) except Victoria Valley; however there was no correlation between mean annual or mean winter temperatures and the SAMI. Air temperature was linearly correlated with near-surface soil temperature (1.3 - 7.5 cm) (R2 gt; 0.79). Near-surface soil temperature was strongly correlated with incoming solar radiation at Victoria Valley (0.14 lt; R2 lt; 0.76) and Granite Harbour (0.49 lt; R2 lt; 0.82), but was not significantly correlated at other sites (0 lt; R2 lt; 0.57). There was no significant correlation between air temperature and wind speed, air temperature and solar radiation and near-surface soil temperature and wind speed, despite occasions of strong correlation on the diurnal time scale. Diurnal summer cycles in air and soil temperatures were driven by solar radiation. Multiple regressions combining the effects of air temperature, solar radiation and wind speed approximated near-surface soil temperatures well at every site during both summer and winter (0.88 lt; R2 lt; 0.98).
Type of thesis
Adlam, L. S. (2009). Soil climate and permafrost temperature monitoring in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2764
The University of Waikato
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