Spatio-temporal modeling of Active Layer Thickness
Abstract:Arctic Regions are experiencing an unprecedented rate of environmental and climate change. The active layer (the uppermost layer of soil between the atmosphere and permafrost that freezes in winter and thaws in summer) is sensitive to both climate and environmental changes and plays an important role in the functioning of Arctic ecosystems, planning, and economic activities. Knowledge about spatio-temporal variability of ALT is crucial for environmental and engineering applications.
The objective of this study is to provide the methodology to model and estimate spatio-temporal variation in the active layer thickness (ALT) at several sites located in the Circumpolar region spanning the Alaska North Slope, and to demonstrate its use in spatio-temporal interpolation as well as time-forward prediction.
In our data analysis we estimate a parametric trend and examine residuals for the presence of spatial and temporal dependence. We propose models that provide a description of residual space-time variability in ALT. Formulations that take into account interaction among spatial and temporal components are also developed. Moreover, we compare our models to naive models in which residual spatio-temporal and temporal correlations are not considered. The predicted root mean squared and absolute errors are significantly reduced when our approach is employed.
While the methodology is developed in the context of ALT, it can also be applied to model and predict other environmental variables which use similar spatio-temporal sampling designs.