Alaska Frost Tube Data Analysis
Organization(s):University Of Alaska Fairbanks (USAKSWHS)
GLOBE Teacher(s):Christina Buffington
Report Type(s):Standard Research Report
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Alaska is located in an arctic and sub-arctic climate with the presence of permafrost. Permafrost conditions range from isolated, sporadic, discontinuous, to continuous extent, depending on location (Yoshikawa, 2013). The Frost Tube Protocol monitors the depth and timing of the freezing of the ground, which is considered the active layer, in places with permafrost. Measurements are taken from ground depth, not the permafrost depth (Frost Tube Protocol). Frost depth can be influenced by air, surface, and soil temperature, as well as the snow depth and vegetation cover (Frost Tube Protocol). According to Iwata et al., soil frost depth influences the amount of snowmelt infiltration (2011), which could influence crop cultivation, plant growth, rate of decomposition of organic matter, and other biological, chemical, and physical properties that occur within soil (Frost Tube Protocol). Data gathered from this research will contribute to a greater understanding of climate change and its resonating effects on natural environments and local ecosystems, as well as how permafrost and active layer change over time (Yoshikawa, 2013). The following research was conducted to explore how frost depth varies between geographic location. Furthermore, the relationship between air and surface temperature is analyzed. Finally, the influence of elevation is observed. Data collected from 2007 to 2011, by Yoshikawa, was entered into the GLOBE database and further visualized within the website, to show the extent of frost tube locations throughout the state of Alaska. Averages taken from the data from September 2008 through May 2009 were organized and graphed to show the comparison of frost depth between interior, southern, and coastal regions throughout the state. Additionally, weekly measurements of air, surface, and frost depth were taken at the frost tube located in the woods in the northwest corner of the UAF campus.
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