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Warming permafrost in European mountains


Harris, C; Vonder Mühll, D; Isaken, K; Haeberli, W; Sollid, J L; King, L; Holmlund, P; Dramis, F; Guglielmin, M; Palacios, D (2003). Warming permafrost in European mountains. Global and Planetary Change, 39(3-4):215-225.

Abstract

Here we present the first systematic measurements of European mountain permafrost temperatures from a latitudinal transect of six boreholes extending from the Alps, through Scandinavia to Svalbard. Boreholes were drilled in bedrock to depths of at least 100 m between May 1998 and September 2000. Geothermal profiles provide evidence for regional-scale secular warming, since all are nonlinear, with near-surface warm-side temperature deviations from the deeper thermal gradient. Topographic effects lead to variability between Alpine sites. First approximation estimates, based on curvature within the borehole thermal profiles, indicate a maximum ground surface warming of +1 °C in Svalbard, considered to relate to thermal changes in the last 100 years. In addition, a 15-year time series of thermal data from the 58-m-deep Murtèl–Corvatsch permafrost borehole in Switzerland, drilled in creeping frozen ice-rich rock debris, shows an overall warming trend, but with high-amplitude interannual fluctuations that reflect early winter snow cover more strongly than air temperatures. Thus interpretation of the deeper borehole thermal histories must clearly take account of the potential effects of changing snow cover in addition to atmospheric temperatures.

Here we present the first systematic measurements of European mountain permafrost temperatures from a latitudinal transect of six boreholes extending from the Alps, through Scandinavia to Svalbard. Boreholes were drilled in bedrock to depths of at least 100 m between May 1998 and September 2000. Geothermal profiles provide evidence for regional-scale secular warming, since all are nonlinear, with near-surface warm-side temperature deviations from the deeper thermal gradient. Topographic effects lead to variability between Alpine sites. First approximation estimates, based on curvature within the borehole thermal profiles, indicate a maximum ground surface warming of +1 °C in Svalbard, considered to relate to thermal changes in the last 100 years. In addition, a 15-year time series of thermal data from the 58-m-deep Murtèl–Corvatsch permafrost borehole in Switzerland, drilled in creeping frozen ice-rich rock debris, shows an overall warming trend, but with high-amplitude interannual fluctuations that reflect early winter snow cover more strongly than air temperatures. Thus interpretation of the deeper borehole thermal histories must clearly take account of the potential effects of changing snow cover in addition to atmospheric temperatures.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2003
Deposited On:20 Jul 2012 19:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:52
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0921-8181
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2003.04.001
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-63211

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