Thermal properties of active layer in permafrost regions with different vegetation types on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

  • Guojie HuEmail author
  • Lin Zhao
  • Ren Li
  • Xiaodong Wu
  • Tonghua Wu
  • Changwei Xie
  • Xiaofan Zhu
  • Junming Hao
Original Paper


Active layer plays a key role in regulating the dynamics of hydrothermal processes and ecosystems that are sensitive to the changing climate in permafrost regions. However, little is known about the hydrothermal dynamics during freeze-thaw processes in permafrost regions with different vegetation types on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). In the present study, the freezing and thawing processes at four sites (QT01, 03, 04, and 05) with different vegetation types on the QTP was analyzed. The results indicated that the impact on the soil water and heat during the summer thawing process was markedly greater than that during the autumn freezing process. Furthermore, the thermal-orbit regression slopes for all sites exhibited a homologous variation as the depth increased, with the slowest attenuation for the meadow sites (QT01 and QT03) and a slightly faster attenuation for the desert steppe site (QT05). The air and ground surface temperatures were similar in winter, but the ground surface temperature was significantly higher than the air temperature in summer in the radiation-rich environment at all sites on the QTP. The results also indicated that the n-factors were between 0.36 and 0.55 during the thawing season, and the annual mean temperature near the permafrost table was between − 1.26 and − 1.84 °C. In the alpine desert steppe region, the thermal conditions exhibited to show a warming trend, with a current permafrost table temperature of − 0.22 °C. The annual changing amplitude of the ground temperature at the permafrost table was different for different vegetation types.



The authors would like to thank Erji Du, Guangyue Liu, Jimin Yao, and Wangping Li whose comments were useful in revising the paper.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41601078), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41690142, 41771076, 41871060, 41671070, 41671068), and the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA20020102 and XDA23060703).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cryosphere Research Station on Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing University of Information Science & TechnologyNanjingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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