This project will perform diagnostic analyses of the processes modulating the surface radiative, turbulent, and conductive fluxes at several Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) climate observatories located around the Arctic Ocean in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia to investigate the annual cycle of the surface energy budget (SEB) and its coupling to atmospheric and surface processes. Where necessary, existing observations will be augmented to complete the suite of SEB measurements. Data exist or will be obtained to focus on the following scientific questions: (i) What processes govern the SEB at Arctic terrestrial sites? What role do local effects such as terrain or coastlines play? How large is the local spatial SEB heterogeneity? How do the physical processes affecting the SEB differ among the various sites? How do these SEB climatologies compare with a sea-ice regime as represented by the SHEBA site, or with that of Greenland? Which SEB terms might be impacted by climate change and how? (ii) What is the relative contribution from classical Monin-Obukhov similarity (MOS) and non-MOS processes to heat and momentum fluxes at Arctic terrestrial sites? Are existing bulk algorithms for surface turbulent fluxes in models applicable at Arctic sites or is the development of new ones necessary? (iii) Which SEB terms determine the soil temperatures and the active layer depth? What mechanisms force variability in those terms? How does the annual cycle of snow cover at each site influence the SEB and thus temperature regimes? Comparisons of key processes at these terrestrial sites will be made to those done by other researchers over Arctic sea ice and on Greenland. These coordinated observations and analyses, which provide process understanding of atmospheric-soil interactions in the Arctic, are rare and will be of interest to a broad spectrum of the scientific community, including the remote sensing and modeling communities. The resulting data and analyses will likely be key data sources for future model studies in a variety of disciplines. Physical understanding of the modulation of energy fluxes to permafrost should provide enhanced understanding of the potential for the greenhouse gas release process in climate-change scenarios. The project takes advantage of interagency and international collaborations with investigators located around the Arctic (USA, Canada, and Russia) and will contribute to education on Arctic climate systems through partnership with the CIRES Education and Outreach group, leading to teacher development and classroom implementation of new climate topics.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
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Neil R. Swanberg
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University of Colorado at Boulder
United States
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