Increasing the Depth of a Land Surface Model. Part II: Temperature Sensitivity to Improved Subsurface Thermodynamics and Associated Permafrost Response


The impact of various modifications of the JSBACH land surface model to represent soil temperature and cold-region hydro-thermodynamic processes in climate projections of the twenty-first century is examined. We explore the sensitivity of JSBACH to changes in the soil thermodynamics, energy balance and storage, and the effect of including freezing and thawing processes. The changes involve 1) the net effect of an improved soil physical representation and 2) the sensitivity of our results to changed soil parameter values and their contribution to the simulation of soil temperatures and soil moisture, both aspects being presented in the frame of an increased bottom boundary depth from 9.83 to 1418.84 m. The implementation of water phase changes and supercooled water in the ground creates a coupling between the soil thermal and hydrological regimes through latent heat exchange. Momentous effects on subsurface temperature of up to ±3 K, together with soil drying in the high northern latitudes, can be found at regional scales when applying improved hydro-thermodynamic soil physics. The sensitivity of the model to different soil parameter datasets is relatively low but shows important implications for the root zone soil moisture content. The evolution of permafrost under preindustrial forcing conditions emerges in simulated trajectories of stable states that differ by 4–6 × 106 km2 and shows large differences in the spatial extent of 105–106 km2 by 2100, depending on the model configuration.
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