Historical changes in air temperature are evident in temperature fluxes measured in the sub-soil.

Fiona Fraser, Benjamin McCormick, Paul Hallett, Philip A. Wookey, David W. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationReportpeer-review


Warming trends in soil temperature have implications for a plethora of soil processes, including exacerbated climate change through the net release of greenhouse gases. Whereas long-term datasets of air temperature changes are abundant, a search of scientific literature reveals a lack of information on soil temperature changes and their specific consequences. We analysed five long-term data series collected in the UK (Dundee and Armagh) and Canada (Charlottetown, Ottawa and Swift Current). They show that the temperatures of soils at 5 - 20 cm depth, and sub-soils at 30 - 150 cm depth, increased in line with air temperature changes over the period 1958 - 2003. Differences were found, however, between soil and air temperatures when data were sub-divided into seasons. In spring, soil temperature warming ranged from 0.19°C at 30 cm in Armagh to 4.30°C at 50 cm in Charlottetown. In summer, however, the difference was smaller and ranged from 0.21°C at 10 cm in Ottawa to 3.70°C at 50 cm in Charlottetown. Winter temperatures were warmer in soil and ranged from 0.45°C at 5 cm in Charlottetown to 3.76°C at 150 cm in Charlottetown. There were significant trends in changes to soil temperature over time, whereas air temperature trends tended only to be significant in winter (changes range from 1.27°C in Armagh to 3.35°C in Swift Current). Differences in the seasonal warming patterns between air and soil temperatures have potential implications for the parameterization of models of biogeochemical cycling.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationEGUGA
PublisherEGU General Assembley
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

EGU General Assembly 2013, held 7-12 April, 2013 in Vienna, Austria, id. EGU2013-6092


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