Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE)
Responses of high latitude terrestrial ecosystems to global change have the potential to affect the Earth system through changes in (a) water and energy exchange with the atmosphere, (b) the exchange of radiatively active gases with the atmosphere, and (c) the delivery of fresh water to the Arctic Ocean. To predict the role of high-latitude terrestrial ecosystems in the response of the Earth system to global change requires the integration of climate dynamics, ecosystem dynamics, and large-scale hydrology in high-latitude regions. The Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE) Project was designed to assess the ability of models to simulate water/energy and CO2 exchange with the atmosphere, and freshwater delivery to the ocean for the Alaskan region in the 1980s and 1990s. The primary goal of the study was to better understand uncertainties of simulated regional hydrologic and ecosystem dynamics in the context of 1) uncertainties in the data available to drive the models and 2) different approaches to simulating regional hydrology and ecosystem dynamics.
The results of the WALE Project identify the importance of conducting retrospective analyses prior to coupling hydrology and ecosystem models with climate system models. For applications of hydrology and ecosystem models driven by projections of future climate, one way of reducing uncertainties may be to implement coupling methodologies that involve the use of anomalies from future climate model simulations to alter the climate data of more trusted datasets of historical climate. Read More…
David McGuire and John Walsh
University of Alaska, Fairbanks