Arctic Climate Forcing Observations to Improve Earth System Models: Measurements at High Frequency, Fine Spatial Resolution, and Climatically Relevant Spatial Scales with the use of the Recently Deployed NGEE-Arctic Tram
Friday, 19 December 2014
In order to improve the representation of the land surface and subsurface properties and their associated feedbacks with climate forcings, climate change, and drivers in Earth System Models (ESMs), detailed observations need to be made at climatically relevant spatial and temporal scales. Pan-Arctic spatial heterogeneity and temporal variation present major challenges to the current generation of ESMs. To enable highly spatially resolved and high temporal frequency measurements for the independent validation of modeled energy and greenhouse gas surface fluxes at core to intermediate scales, we have developed, tested, and deployed an automated observational platform, the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE)-Arctic Tram. The NGEE-Arctic Tram, installed on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) near Barrow, AK in mid May 2014, consists of 65 meters of elevated track and a fully automated cart carrying a suite of radiation and remote sensing instrumentation. The tram transect is located within the NGEE eddy covariance tower footprint to help better understand the relative contribution of different landforms (e.g. low center vs high center polygonal tundra and associated vegetation) to the overall energy budget of the footprint. Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), soil moisture, and soil temperature sensors are acquired autonomously and co-located with the tram to link subsurface properties with surface observations. To complement the high frequency and fine spatial resolution of the tram, during the summer field seasons of 2013 and 2014 a portable version of the NGEE-Arctic Tram (also know as the portable energy pole or PEP); was used to characterize surface albedo, NDVI, surface temperature, and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) across two ~500 m BEO transects co-located with subsurface ERT and ground penetrating radar (GPR) measurements. In addition, a ~ 3 Km transect across three drained thaw-lake basins (DTLB) of different climate-change relevant ages (from 50 years to more than 3000 years old) was measured with PEP. Soil surface CO2 and CH4 flux measurements were co-located with tram and PEP measurements. These data will enhance our understanding of the spatial distribution of climate forcing variables across the Arctic landscape through validation of Earth system models.