The Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiment Arctic Rainfall Simulator: a tool to understand the effects of changing rainfall patterns in the Arctic


Rainfall frequency and intensity are expected to increase in the Arctic, with potential detrimental impacts on permafrost, leading to enhanced thawing and carbon release to the atmosphere. However, there have been very few studies on the effect of discrete rain events on permafrost in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Conducting controlled rainfall experiments within permafrost landscapes can provide an improved understanding of the effect of changing intensity, duration, and timing of rain events on permafrost tundra ecosystems. Here, we describe the design and implementation of the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiment Arctic Rainfall Simulator (NARS), a variable intensity (4–82 mm/h) rainfall simulator that can be used to study the effects of rainfall on permafrost stability. The NARS design includes a 3D-printed 4 cm H-flume and uses an eTape resistivity sensor that was calibrated (R2 = 0.9–0.96) to measure discharge from the system. NARS is designed to be lightweight, simple to construct, and can be easily deployed in remote locations. As a field validation of updated rainfall simulator design and modernized controls, NARS was tested on the Seward Peninsula, AK. Because of its portability, versatility in deployment, dimensions, and rainfall intensity, NARS represents a methodological innovation for researching the impacts of rainfall on permafrost environments.

Journal Article
Year of Publication
Hydrology Research
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