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Mid‐Holocene frozen ground in China from PMIP3 simulations Print

      Extensive degradation of frozen ground in the mid‐Holocene is widely assumed on the basis of sparse proxy data. Here, the simulated soil temperature from the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project Phase 3 is used to address this issue over China. By comparing with the results of a preindustrial (0 ka, baseline) simulation, we show that frozen ground in the mid‐Holocene (6 ka) simulation is degraded mainly in northeast China and on the northern Tibetan Plateau. The change follows closely orbitally induced variations in insolation. Quantitatively, permafrost area reduces by 0.02×106 km2 in northeast China in response to an orbitally induced increase in boreal summer insolation but increases by 0.08×106 km2 on the southern Tibetan Plateau due to local summer cooling. Changing values of active layer thickness vary greatly amongst different locations. On average, they are 3 and 4 cm thicker than the preindustrial values in northeast China and on the Tibetan Plateau, respectively. No degradation in seasonally frozen ground is detected over China as a whole. Regionally, its coverage increases by 0.21×106 km2 near the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River valley. In addition, the maximum depth of seasonal frost penetration is on average 8.5 cm deeper than preindustrial values due to widespread winter cooling. The changes in frozen ground are consistent amongst models. However, the models disagree with proxy data in terms of not only the changes in frozen ground but also climate. Further modelling improvements and adequate proxy data are both needed to fill in the gaps between models and the data in our knowledge of the mid‐Holocene frozen ground.


Liu, Y., and D. Jiang*, Mid-Holocene frozen ground in China from PMIP3 simulations, Boreas, 2018, 47, 498–509.


【Key figure】



Figure. Permafrost, seasonally frozen ground and unfrozen ground distributions for (A) the mid-Holocene, (B) preindustrial period and (C) mid-Holoceneminus preindustrial anomalies inChinaas derivedfromtheensemble average (themostfrequently identified category foreach grid cell) of the eightPMIP3models. InpanelC,weconsider the preindustrial period as abenchmarkand display the relative changes of the mid-Holocene with reference to the benchmark condition.