Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Solid Earth, 5, 721–739, 2014

Special issue: Soil processes in cold-climate environments

Solid Earth, 5, 721–739, 2014

Research article 30 Jul 2014

Research article | 30 Jul 2014

Thermal characterization of the active layer at the Limnopolar Lake CALM-S site on Byers Peninsula (Livingston Island), Antarctica

M. A. de Pablo1, M. Ramos2, and A. Molina1,3 M. A. de Pablo et al.
  • 1Department of Geology, Geography and Environment, University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain
  • 2Department of Physics and Mathematics, University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain
  • 3Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC/INTA, Madrid, Spain

Abstract. The Limnopolar Lake site (A25), of the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring-South network (CALM-S), is located on Byers Peninsula, where the active layer thickness is monitored systematically (by mechanical probing during the thawing season and by temperature devices continuously since 2009). Air, surface, snow and ground temperature devices have been installed to monitor ground thermal behavior, which is presented and characterized here. We use the air and ground mean daily temperature values to define the following parameters: maximum, minimum and mean temperatures, the zero annual thermal amplitude, and the depth and position of the top of the permafrost table. The freezing and thawing seasons (defining their starting dates as well as their length) and the existence of zero curtain periods have also been established. We also derive apparent thermal diffusivity and plot thermograms to study the thermal behavior of the ground at different depths and seasons. After this complete thermal characterization of the active layer, we propose the potential existence of a permafrost table at approximately 130 cm in depth as well as a former transitional layer above it, and discuss the role of water in connection with the thermal behavior of the ground during the study period.