Permafrost and ground temperature regimes: A challenging soil classification problem in low arctic and alpine environments

Colin E. Thorn, Robert G. Darmody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The prevailing criteria in United States Department of Agriculture's Soil Taxonomy classification system place preeminent emphasis on temperature, especially upon the presence or absence of permafrost. Given that permafrost is a purely thermal concept, but one that must pertain for at least two consecutive years, there are substantial intellectual and pragmatic challenges for pedologists working in low arctic and alpine environments where permafrost is likely to be discontinuous or sporadic, and fieldwork of a reconnaissance nature. The definitive criteria place great emphasis on permafrost at 100 and 200 cm, a depth that is often difficult to reach in alpine contexts, and of questionable genetic significance if the soils are thin or dry. In this paper, the extreme spatial variability, or fragmentation, of low arctic and alpine soil thermal regimes are illustrated with one year of data from Kärkevagge, arctic Sweden and two years of data from the Storbreen glacier foreland, Jotunheimen, Norway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalGeografisk Tidsskrift
Volume101
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Alpine
  • Arctic
  • Permafrost
  • Soil classification
  • Temperature regime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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