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Surface energy balance of sub-Arctic roads with varying snow regimes and properties in permafrost regions

August 30, 2021

Surface energy balance (SEB) strongly influences the thermal state of permafrost, cryohydrological processes, and infrastructure stability. Road construction and snow accumulation affect the energy balance of underlying permafrost. Herein, we use an experimental road section of the Alaska Highway to develop a SEB model to quantify the surface energy components and ground surface temperature (GST) for different land cover types with varying snow regimes and properties. Simulated and measured ground temperatures are in good agreement, and our results show that the quantity of heat entering the embankment center and slope is mainly controlled by net radiation, and less by the sensible heat flux. In spring, lateral heat flux from the embankment center leads to earlier disappearance of snowpack on the embankment slope. In winter, the insulation created by the snow cover on the embankment slope reduces heat loss by a factor of three compared with the embankment center where the snow is plowed. The surface temperature offsets are 5.0°C and 7.8°C for the embankment center and slope, respectively. Furthermore, the heat flux released on the embankment slope exponentially decreases with increasing snow depth, and linearly decreases with earlier snow cover in fall and shorter snow-covered period in spring.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Surface energy balance of sub-Arctic roads with varying snow regimes and properties in permafrost regions
DOI 10.1002/ppp.2129
Authors Lin Chen, Clifford I. Voss, Daniel Fortier, Jeffrey M. McKenzie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Permafrost and Periglacial Processes
Index ID 70238839
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division

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