Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 68 ›› Issue (3): 318-327.doi: 10.11821/xb201303003

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Permafrost distribution modeling and depth estimation in the Western Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

NAN Zhuotong1,2, HUANG Peipei1, ZHAO Lin1   

  1. 1. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, CAREERI/CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2012-12-10 Revised:2013-01-12 Online:2013-03-20 Published:2013-03-20
  • Supported by:

    Special Basic Research Funds, No.2008FY110200; Open Project of National Key Laboratory, No.SKLFSE201009

Abstract: In this study, an extended surface frost number model (E-FROSTNUM) is applied to simulate the spatial distribution of permafrost in the study area combined with remotely sensed data and available field survey data from an ongoing project titled Permafrost Background Investigation over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The distribution simulation is verified with the two typical areas investigated during the project. Moreover, a relationship between soil temperatures at a 10-m depth and topographic factors (latitude/longitude, elevation, aspect) and potential incoming solar radiation is found to be significant and applicable to estimate soil temperature at the 10-m depth in the study area. Based on this estimation, the permafrost depths are computed using a regressed relationship of 10 m soil temperature and permafrost bottom depth, derived from the west Kunlun borehole records. The study shows that 36.9% of the area is covered by permafrost and mainly distributed in the areas of Karakoram and western Kunlun Mountains in a range of 34°~36.5°N, and 57.5% covered by seasonally frozen soil, which includes the Tarim Basin and the area south of 34°N.

Key words: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, permafrost, extended frost number model, permafrost depth