Response of changes in seasonal soil freeze/thaw state to climate change from 1950 to 2010 across china Academic Article uri icon


  • ©2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Variations in seasonal soil freeze/thaw state are important indicators of climate change and influence ground temperature, hydrological processes, surface energy, and the moisture balance. Previous studies mainly focused on the active layer and permafrost, while seasonally frozen ground research in nonpermafrost regions has received less attention. In this study, we investigate the response of changes in seasonal soil freeze/thaw state to changes in air temperatures by combining observations from more than 800 stations with gridded mean monthly air temperature data across China. The results show that mean annual air temperature (MAAT) increased statistically significantly by 0.29 ± 0.03°C/decade from 1967 to 2013, with greater warming on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. There is a statistically significant decrease in the freeze/thaw cycle (FTC) at 0.39 ± 0.05 cycles/decade. In addition, there are strong negative correlations between FTC and MAAT. Estimating the soil freeze/thaw state classification based on the number of days in the month, we find that changes of mean annual area extent of seasonal soil freeze/thaw state decreased significantly for completely frozen (CF) ground, while the area extent of partially frozen (PF) and unfrozen (UF) ground both increased. Changes in mean monthly area extent of seasonal soil freeze/thaw state indicate that the extent of CF and UF area was decreasing and increasing, respectively. But for the extent of PF areas, both increasing and decreasing trends were observed. Quantifying the spatial pattern of the seasonal soil freeze/thaw, we find that CF and PF areas are located in northern China and the Tibetan Plateau from December to March, and UF areas are located in southern China. The variations of mean annual area extent departure of soil freeze/thaw states are consistent with MAAT changes in different land cover types across China.

author list (cited authors)

  • Peng, X., Frauenfeld, O. W., Cao, B., Wang, K., Wang, H., Su, H., ... Zhang, T.

citation count

  • 22

publication date

  • November 2016