Precipitation has a significant influence on the hydro-thermal state of the active layer in permafrost regions, which disturbs the surface energy balance, carbon flux, ecosystem, hydrological cycles and landscape processes. To better understand the hydro-thermal dynamics of active layer and the interactions between rainfall and permafrost, we applied the coupled heat and mass transfer model for soil-plant-atmosphere system into high-altitude permafrost regions in this study. Meteorological data, soil temperature, heat flux and moisture content from different depths within the active layer were used to calibrate and validate this model. Thereafter, the precipitation was increased to explore the effect of recent climatic wetting on the thermal state of the active layer. The primary results demonstrate that the variation of active layer thickness under the effect of short-term increased precipitation is not obvious, while soil surface heat flux can show the changing trends of thermal state in active layer, which should not be negligible. An increment in year-round precipitation leads to a cooling effect on active layers in the frozen season, i.e. verifying the insulating effect of “snow cover”. However, in the thawed season, the increased precipitation created a heating effect on active layers, i.e. facilitating the degradation of permafrost. The soil thermal dynamic in single precipitation event reveals that the precipitation event seems to cool the active layer, while compared with the results under increased precipitation, climatic wetting trend has a different influence on the permafrost evolution.
Active layer Precipitation Qinghai-Tibet plateau Hydro-thermal dynamic
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The author would like to thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41771073, 41871061, 41690144 and 41530639), the Major Program of Bureau of International Cooperation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (131B62KYSB20170012) and Open Fund of State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering (Grant No. SKLFSE201712) for financially supporting this research.
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