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Special Issue "Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Remote Sensing in Geology, Geomorphology and Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Benjamin M. Jones

U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, Alaska 99508 USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +907 786 7150
Interests: multi-sensor remote sensing of arctic landscapes; combining ground-based and space-based observations; thermokarst and other thaw related landscape dynamics; arctic lakes
Guest Editor
Dr. Annett Bartsch

Austrian Polar Research Institute, Vice-Director, c/o Universität Wien, Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Managing Director, b.geos GmbH, Industriestrasse 1, 2100 Korneuburg, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: microwave remote sensing; landsurface hydrology; frozen ground; snow; land cover
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Guido Grosse

Head of Periglacial Research Unit, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Arctic terrestrial landscape dynamics; remote sensing of permafrost regions; permafrost thaw; permafrost geomorphology and hydrology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The implications of widespread permafrost degradation are immense and include impacts to infrastructure, ecosystems, hydrology, and carbon cycling. More accurate measures of permafrost distribution, characteristics, and dynamics are needed for understanding past, present, and future permafrost region responses to climate and human disturbance. The development and application of remote sensing in permafrost regions is of importance for inventorying and observing the state and change of this essential component of the cryosphere.

We are pleased to announce a Special Issue in the journal Remote Sensing on “Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions”. We solicit manuscripts that use the multitude of remote sensing platforms and sensors available for describing permafrost region characteristics and dynamics. We welcome submissions that focus on multiple spatial and temporal scales as well as the integration of permafrost region field studies with remotely sensed data. We are particularly interested in submissions that deal with ice-rich permafrost landscapes and quantification of thermokarst and thaw-related landscape dynamics. Contributions that demonstrate the development of new techniques, data products, and/or highlight the challenges of remote sensing in permafrost regions are also encouraged.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us in regards to your potential submission to our special issue focused on “Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions”.

Dr. Benjamin M. Jones
Prof. Dr. Guido Grosse
Dr. Annett Bartsch
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Permafrost
  • Remote Sensing
  • Thermokarst
  • Permafrost Degradation
  • Ground Ice
  • Frozen Ground
  • Thaw Subsidence

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Dynamics of Permafrost Coasts of Baydaratskaya Bay (Kara Sea) Based on Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Data
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1481; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091481
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 16 September 2018
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Abstract
Arctic coasts composed of frozen deposits are extremely sensitive to climate change and human impact. They retreat with average rates of 1–2 m per year, depending on climatic and permafrost conditions. In recent decades, retreat rates have shown a tendency to increase. In
[...] Read more.
Arctic coasts composed of frozen deposits are extremely sensitive to climate change and human impact. They retreat with average rates of 1–2 m per year, depending on climatic and permafrost conditions. In recent decades, retreat rates have shown a tendency to increase. In this paper, we studied the coastal dynamics of two key sites (Ural and Yamal coasts) of Baydaratskaya Bay, Kara Sea, where a gas pipeline had been constructed. Based on multi-temporal aerial and satellite imagery, we identified coastal erosion rates at several time lapses, in natural conditions and under human impact, and discussed their temporal variability. In addition to planimetric (m/yr), we calculated volumetric (m3/m/yr) retreat rates of erosional coasts using ArcticDEM. We also estimated the influence of geomorphology, lithology, and permafrost structure of the coasts on spatial variations of their dynamics. Erosional coasts of the Ural key site retreat with higher mean rates (1.2 m/yr and 8.7 m3/m/yr) as compared to the Yamal key site (0.3 m/yr and 3.7 m3/m/yr) due to their exposure to higher open sea waves, more complex lithology, higher ice content and lower coastal bluffs. Since the 1960s, coastal retreat rates have been growing on both coasts of Baydaratskaya Bay; we relate this effect with Arctic climate warming. From the 1960s to 2005, such growth was moderate, while in 2005–2016 it became rapid, which may be explained by the enhanced wave and thermal action or by the onset of industrial development. The adjacent coastal segments, originally accumulative, remained relatively stable from the 1960s to 2005. After 2005, a considerable part of them began to retreat as a result of changing weather conditions and/or increasing human impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Sentinel-1 SAR Interferometry for Surface Deformation Monitoring in Low-Land Permafrost Areas
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1360; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091360
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 21 August 2018 / Accepted: 22 August 2018 / Published: 27 August 2018
PDF Full-text (16671 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Low-land permafrost areas are subject to intense freeze-thaw cycles and characterized by remarkable surface displacement. We used Sentinel-1 SAR interferometry (InSAR) in order to analyse the summer surface displacement over four spots in the Arctic and Antarctica since 2015. Choosing floodplain or outcrop
[...] Read more.
Low-land permafrost areas are subject to intense freeze-thaw cycles and characterized by remarkable surface displacement. We used Sentinel-1 SAR interferometry (InSAR) in order to analyse the summer surface displacement over four spots in the Arctic and Antarctica since 2015. Choosing floodplain or outcrop areas as the reference for the InSAR relative deformation measurements, we found maximum subsidence of about 3 to 10 cm during the thawing season with generally high spatial variability. Sentinel-1 time-series of interferograms with 6–12 day time intervals highlight that subsidence is often occurring rather quickly within roughly one month in early summer. Intercomparison of summer subsidence from Sentinel-1 in 2017 with TerraSAR-X in 2013 over part of the Lena River Delta (Russia) shows a high spatial agreement between both SAR systems. A comparison with in-situ measurements for the summer of 2014 over the Lena River Delta indicates a pronounced downward movement of several centimetres in both cases but does not reveal a spatial correspondence between InSAR and local in-situ measurements. For the reconstruction of longer time-series of deformation, yearly Sentinel-1 interferograms from the end of the summer were considered. However, in order to infer an effective subsidence of the surface through melting of excess ice layers over multi-annual scales with Sentinel-1, a longer observation time period is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Regional Patterns and Asynchronous Onset of Ice-Wedge Degradation since the Mid-20th Century in Arctic Alaska
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1312; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10081312
Received: 3 June 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 August 2018 / Published: 20 August 2018
PDF Full-text (10053 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Ice-wedge polygons are widespread and conspicuous surficial expressions of ground-ice in permafrost landscapes. Thawing of ice wedges triggers differential ground subsidence, local ponding, and persistent changes to vegetation and hydrologic connectivity across the landscape. Here we characterize spatio-temporal patterns of ice-wedge degradation since
[...] Read more.
Ice-wedge polygons are widespread and conspicuous surficial expressions of ground-ice in permafrost landscapes. Thawing of ice wedges triggers differential ground subsidence, local ponding, and persistent changes to vegetation and hydrologic connectivity across the landscape. Here we characterize spatio-temporal patterns of ice-wedge degradation since circa 1950 across environmental gradients on Alaska’s North Slope. We used a spectral thresholding approach validated by field observations to map flooded thaw pits in high-resolution images from circa 1950, 1982, and 2012 for 11 study areas (1577–4460 ha). The total area of flooded pits increased since 1950 at 8 of 11 study areas (median change +3.6 ha; 130.3%). There were strong regional differences in the timing and extent of degradation; flooded pits were already extensive by 1950 on the Chukchi coastal plain (alluvial-marine deposits) and subsequent changes there indicate pit stabilization. Degradation began more recently on the central Beaufort coastal plain (eolian sand) and Arctic foothills (yedoma). Our results indicate that ice-wedge degradation in northern Alaska cannot be explained by late-20th century warmth alone. Likely mechanisms for asynchronous onset include landscape-scale differences in surficial materials and ground-ice content, regional climate gradients from west (maritime) to east (continental), and regional differences in the timing and magnitude of extreme warm summers after the Little Ice Age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Landscape Change Detected over a Half Century in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Using High-Resolution Aerial Imagery
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1305; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10081305
Received: 2 June 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 27 July 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
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Abstract
Rapid warming has occurred over the past 50 years in Arctic Alaska, where temperature strongly affects ecological patterns and processes. To document landscape change over a half century in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, we visually interpreted geomorphic and vegetation changes on
[...] Read more.
Rapid warming has occurred over the past 50 years in Arctic Alaska, where temperature strongly affects ecological patterns and processes. To document landscape change over a half century in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, we visually interpreted geomorphic and vegetation changes on time series of coregistered high-resolution imagery. We used aerial photographs for two time periods, 1947–1955 and 1978–1988, and Quick Bird and IKONOS satellite images for a third period, 2000–2007. The stratified random sample had five sites in each of seven ecoregions, with a systematic grid of 100 points per site. At each point in each time period, we recorded vegetation type, microtopography, and surface water. Change types were then assigned based on differences detected between the images. Overall, 23% of the points underwent some type of change over the ~50-year study period. Weighted by area of each ecoregion, we estimated that 18% of the Refuge had changed. The most common changes were wildfire and postfire succession, shrub and tree increase in the absence of fire, river erosion and deposition, and ice-wedge degradation. Ice-wedge degradation occurred mainly in the Tundra Biome, shrub increase and river changes in the Mountain Biome, and fire and postfire succession in the Boreal Biome. Changes in the Tundra Biome tended to be related to landscape wetting, mainly from increased wet troughs caused by ice-wedge degradation. The Boreal Biome tended to have changes associated with landscape drying, including recent wildfire, lake area decrease, and land surface drying. The second time interval, after ~1982, coincided with accelerated climate warming and had slightly greater rates of change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Drivers of Landscape Changes in Coastal Ecosystems on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1280; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10081280
Received: 1 June 2018 / Revised: 15 July 2018 / Accepted: 3 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
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Abstract
The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is the largest delta in western North America and its productive coastal ecosystems support globally significant populations of breeding birds and a large indigenous population. To quantify past landscape changes as a guide to assessing future climate impacts to
[...] Read more.
The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is the largest delta in western North America and its productive coastal ecosystems support globally significant populations of breeding birds and a large indigenous population. To quantify past landscape changes as a guide to assessing future climate impacts to the YKD and how indigenous society may adapt to change, we photo-interpreted ecotypes at 600 points within 12 grids in a 2118 km2 area along the central YKD coast using a time-series of air photos from 1948–1955 and 1980 and satellite images from 2007–2008 (IKONOS) and 2013–2016 (WorldView). We found that ecotype classes changed 16.2% (342 km2) overall during the ~62 years. Ecotypes changed 6.0% during 1953–1980, 7.2% during 1980–2007 and 3.8% during 2007–2015. Lowland Moist Birch-Ericaceous Low Scrub (−5.0%) and Coastal Saline Flat Barrens (−2.3%) showed the greatest decreases in area, while Lowland Water Sedge Meadow (+1.7%) and Lacustrine Marestail Marsh (+1.3%) showed the largest increases. Dominant processes affecting change were permafrost degradation (5.3%), channel erosion (3.0%), channel deposition (2.2%), vegetation colonization (2.3%) and lake drainage (1.5%), while sedimentation, water-level fluctuations, permafrost aggradation and shoreline paludification each affected <0.5% of the area. Rates of change increased dramatically in the late interval for permafrost degradation (from 0.06 to 0.26%/year) and vegetation colonization (from 0.03 to 0.16%/year), while there was a small decrease in channel deposition (from 0.05 to 0.0%/year) due largely to barren mudflats being colonized by vegetation. In contrast, rates of channel erosion remained fairly constant. The increased permafrost degradation coincided with increasing storm frequency and air temperatures. We attribute increased permafrost degradation and vegetation colonization during the recent interval mostly to the effects of a large storm in 2005, which caused extensive salt-kill of vegetation along the margins of permafrost plateaus and burial of vegetation on active tidal flats by mud that was later recolonized. Due to the combination of extremely flat terrain, sea-level rise, sea-ice reduction that facilitates more storm flooding and accelerating permafrost degradation, we believe the YKD is the most vulnerable region in the Arctic to climate warming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Land Cover Change in the Lower Yenisei River Using Dense Stacking of Landsat Imagery in Google Earth Engine
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1226; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10081226
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 4 August 2018
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Abstract
Climate warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic due to regional amplification, potentially accelerating land cover change. Measuring and monitoring land cover change utilizing optical remote sensing in the Arctic has been challenging due to persistent cloud and snow cover
[...] Read more.
Climate warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic due to regional amplification, potentially accelerating land cover change. Measuring and monitoring land cover change utilizing optical remote sensing in the Arctic has been challenging due to persistent cloud and snow cover issues and the spectrally similar land cover types. Google Earth Engine (GEE) represents a powerful tool to efficiently investigate these changes using a large repository of available optical imagery. This work examines land cover change in the Lower Yenisei River region of arctic central Siberia and exemplifies the application of GEE using the random forest classification algorithm for Landsat dense stacks spanning the 32-year period from 1985 to 2017, referencing 1641 images in total. The semiautomated methodology presented here classifies the study area on a per-pixel basis utilizing the complete Landsat record available for the region by only drawing from minimally cloud- and snow-affected pixels. Climatic changes observed within the study area’s natural environments show a statistically significant steady greening (~21,000 km2 transition from tundra to taiga) and a slight decrease (~700 km2) in the abundance of large lakes, indicative of substantial permafrost degradation. The results of this work provide an effective semiautomated classification strategy for remote sensing in permafrost regions and map products that can be applied to future regional environmental modeling of the Lower Yenisei River region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Sentinel-1 InSAR Measurements of Elevation Changes over Yedoma Uplands on Sobo-Sise Island, Lena Delta
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(7), 1152; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10071152
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 15 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 21 July 2018
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Abstract
Yedoma—extremely ice-rich permafrost with massive ice wedges formed during the Late Pleistocene—is vulnerable to thawing and degradation under climate warming. Thawing of ice-rich Yedoma results in lowering of surface elevations. Quantitative knowledge about surface elevation changes helps us to understand the freeze-thaw processes
[...] Read more.
Yedoma—extremely ice-rich permafrost with massive ice wedges formed during the Late Pleistocene—is vulnerable to thawing and degradation under climate warming. Thawing of ice-rich Yedoma results in lowering of surface elevations. Quantitative knowledge about surface elevation changes helps us to understand the freeze-thaw processes of the active layer and the potential degradation of Yedoma deposits. In this study, we use C-band Sentinel-1 InSAR measurements to map the elevation changes over ice-rich Yedoma uplands on Sobo-Sise Island, Lena Delta with frequent revisit observations (as short as six or 12 days). We observe significant seasonal thaw subsidence during summer months and heterogeneous inter-annual elevation changes from 2016–17. We also observe interesting patterns of stronger seasonal thaw subsidence on elevated flat Yedoma uplands by comparing to the surrounding Yedoma slopes. Inter-annual analyses from 2016–17 suggest that our observed positive surface elevation changes are likely caused by the delayed progression of the thaw season in 2017, associated with mean annual air temperature fluctuations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Growth of Retrogressive Thaw Slumps in the Noatak Valley, Alaska, 2010–2016, Measured by Airborne Photogrammetry
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(7), 983; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10070983
Received: 2 May 2018 / Revised: 24 May 2018 / Accepted: 8 June 2018 / Published: 21 June 2018
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Abstract
We monitored the growth of 22 retrogressive thaw slumps (RTS), dramatic erosion features associated with thaw of permafrost, in the Noatak Valley of northern Alaska using high-resolution structure-from-motion digital photogrammetry. We created time-series of 3–6 Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and orthophoto mosaics during
[...] Read more.
We monitored the growth of 22 retrogressive thaw slumps (RTS), dramatic erosion features associated with thaw of permafrost, in the Noatak Valley of northern Alaska using high-resolution structure-from-motion digital photogrammetry. We created time-series of 3–6 Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and orthophoto mosaics during the time period from 2010–2016 at each slump, using high-resolution digital single-lens reflex (SLR) photographs taken from airplanes or helicopters. DEMs created using airborne GPS camera locations were adequate to detect elevations changes as small as 10 to 15 cm. Measurements made on these DEMs and orthophotographs showed slump growth rates of up to 38 m yr−1, with the fastest rates on slumps with scarps of moderate height (1 to 4 m) exposing Pleistocene glacial ice. Most of the slumps grew at constant or declining rates during the study, apparently as a result of the slumps encountering more gentle topography as they expanded upslope. Sedimentation was predominantly on the slump floor within 40 m of the active scarp, and the zone of accumulation migrated upslope with the scarp, away from adjacent water bodies. This study demonstrates that low-cost cameras coupled with airborne GPS and no ground control are suitable for monitoring geomorphic change on the order of decimeters and are a powerful tool for monitoring in remote settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Climate Sensitivity of High Arctic Permafrost Terrain Demonstrated by Widespread Ice-Wedge Thermokarst on Banks Island
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(6), 954; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10060954
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 12 May 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
PDF Full-text (12146 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Ice-wedge networks underlie polygonal terrain and comprise the most widespread form of massive ground ice in continuous permafrost. Here, we show that climate-driven thaw of hilltop ice-wedge networks is rapidly transforming uplands across Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Change detection using
[...] Read more.
Ice-wedge networks underlie polygonal terrain and comprise the most widespread form of massive ground ice in continuous permafrost. Here, we show that climate-driven thaw of hilltop ice-wedge networks is rapidly transforming uplands across Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Change detection using high-resolution WorldView images and historical air photos, coupled with 32-year Landsat reflectance trends, indicate broad-scale increases in ponding from ice-wedge thaw on hilltops, which has significantly affected at least 1500 km2 of Banks Island and over 3.5% of the total upland area. Trajectories of change associated with this upland ice-wedge thermokarst include increased micro-relief, development of high-centred polygons, and, in areas of poor drainage, ponding and potential initiation of thaw lakes. Millennia of cooling climate have favoured ice-wedge growth, and an absence of ecosystem disturbance combined with surface denudation by solifluction has produced high Arctic uplands and slopes underlain by ice-wedge networks truncated at the permafrost table. The thin veneer of thermally-conductive mineral soils strongly links Arctic upland active-layer responses to summer warming. For these reasons, widespread and intense ice-wedge thermokarst on Arctic hilltops and slopes contrast more muted responses to warming reported in low and subarctic environments. Increasing field evidence of thermokarst highlights the inherent climate sensitivity of the Arctic permafrost terrain and the need for integrated approaches to monitor change and investigate the cascade of environmental consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Remotely Sensing the Morphometrics and Dynamics of a Cold Region Dune Field Using Historical Aerial Photography and Airborne LiDAR Data
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 792; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050792
Received: 7 April 2018 / Revised: 5 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 19 May 2018
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Abstract
This study uses an airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey, historical aerial photography and historical climate data to describe the character and dynamics of the Nogahabara Sand Dunes, a sub-Arctic dune field in interior Alaska’s discontinuous permafrost zone. The Nogahabara Sand Dunes
[...] Read more.
This study uses an airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey, historical aerial photography and historical climate data to describe the character and dynamics of the Nogahabara Sand Dunes, a sub-Arctic dune field in interior Alaska’s discontinuous permafrost zone. The Nogahabara Sand Dunes consist of a 43-km2 area of active transverse and barchanoid dunes within a 3200-km2 area of vegetated dune and sand sheet deposits. The average dune height in the active portion of the dune field is 5.8 m, with a maximum dune height of 28 m. Dune spacing is variable with average crest-to-crest distances for select transects ranging from 66–132 m. Between 1952 and 2015, dunes migrated at an average rate of 0.52 m a−1. Dune movement was greatest between 1952 and 1978 (0.68 m a−1) and least between 1978 and 2015 (0.43 m a−1). Dunes migrated predominantly to the southeast; however, along the dune field margin, net migration was towards the edge of the dune field regardless of heading. Better constraining the processes controlling dune field dynamics at the Nogahabara dunes would provide information that can be used to model possible reactivation of more northerly dune fields and sand sheets in response to climate change, shifting fire regimes and permafrost thaw. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Microrelief Associated with Gas Emission Craters: Remote-Sensing and Field-Based Study
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 677; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050677
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
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Abstract
Formation of gas emission craters (GEC) is a new process in the permafrost zone, leading to considerable terrain changes. Yet their role in changing the relief is local, incomparable in the volume of the removed deposits to other destructive cryogenic processes. However, the
[...] Read more.
Formation of gas emission craters (GEC) is a new process in the permafrost zone, leading to considerable terrain changes. Yet their role in changing the relief is local, incomparable in the volume of the removed deposits to other destructive cryogenic processes. However, the relief-forming role of GECs is not limited to the appearance of the crater itself, but also results in positive and negative microforms as well. Negative microforms are rounded hollows, surrounded by piles of ejected or extruded deposits. Hypotheses related to the origin of these forms are put forward and supported by an analysis of multi-temporal satellite images, field observations and photographs of GECs. Remote sensing data specifically was used for interpretation of landform origin, measuring distances and density of material scattering, identifying scattered material through analysis of repeated imagery. Remote-sensing and field data reliably substantiate an impact nature of the hollows around GECs. It is found that scattering of frozen blocks at a distance of up to 293 m from a GEC is capable of creating an impact hollow. These data indicate the influence of GEC on the relief through the formation of a microrelief within a radius of 15–20 times the radius of the crater itself. Our study aims at the prediction of risk zones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Multi-Annual Kinematics of an Active Rock Glacier Quantified from Very High-Resolution DEMs: An Application-Case in the French Alps
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040547
Received: 11 January 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 3 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (13213 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Rock glaciers result from the long-term creeping of ice-rich permafrost along mountain slopes. Under warming conditions, deformation is expected to increase, and potential destabilization of those landforms may lead to hazardous phenomena. Monitoring the kinematics of rock glaciers at fine spatial resolution is
[...] Read more.
Rock glaciers result from the long-term creeping of ice-rich permafrost along mountain slopes. Under warming conditions, deformation is expected to increase, and potential destabilization of those landforms may lead to hazardous phenomena. Monitoring the kinematics of rock glaciers at fine spatial resolution is required to better understand at which rate, where and how they deform. We present here the results of several years of in situ surveys carried out between 2005 and 2015 on the Laurichard rock glacier, an active rock glacier located in the French Alps. Repeated terrestrial laser-scanning (TLS) together with aerial laser-scanning (ALS) and structure-from-motion-multi-view-stereophotogrammetry (SFM-MVS) were used to accurately quantify surface displacement of the Laurichard rock glacier at interannual and pluri-annual scales. Six very high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs, pixel size <50 cm) of the rock glacier surface were generated, and their respective quality was assessed. The relative horizontal position accuracy (XY) of the individual DEMs is in general less than 2 cm with a co-registration error on stable areas ranging from 20–50 cm. The vertical accuracy is around 20 cm. The direction and amplitude of surface displacements computed between DEMs are very consistent with independent geodetic field measurements (e.g., DGPS). Using these datasets, local patterns of the Laurichard rock glacier kinematics were quantified, pointing out specific internal (rheological) and external (bed topography) controls. The evolution of the surface velocity shows few changes on the rock glacier’s snout for the first years of the observed period, followed by a major acceleration between 2012 and 2015 affecting the upper part of the tongue and the snout. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Thaw Subsidence of a Yedoma Landscape in Northern Siberia, Measured In Situ and Estimated from TerraSAR-X Interferometry
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040494
Received: 2 February 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (23538 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In permafrost areas, seasonal freeze-thaw cycles result in upward and downward movements of the ground. For some permafrost areas, long-term downward movements were reported during the last decade. We measured seasonal and multi-year ground movements in a yedoma region of the Lena River
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In permafrost areas, seasonal freeze-thaw cycles result in upward and downward movements of the ground. For some permafrost areas, long-term downward movements were reported during the last decade. We measured seasonal and multi-year ground movements in a yedoma region of the Lena River Delta, Siberia, in 2013–2017, using reference rods installed deep in the permafrost. The seasonal subsidence was 1.7 ± 1.5 cm in the cold summer of 2013 and 4.8 ± 2 cm in the warm summer of 2014. Furthermore, we measured a pronounced multi-year net subsidence of 9.3 ± 5.7 cm from spring 2013 to the end of summer 2017. Importantly, we observed a high spatial variability of subsidence of up to 6 cm across a sub-meter horizontal scale. In summer 2013, we accompanied our field measurements with Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) on repeat-pass TerraSAR-X (TSX) data from the summer of 2013 to detect summer thaw subsidence over the same study area. Interferometry was strongly affected by a fast phase coherence loss, atmospheric artifacts, and possibly the choice of reference point. A cumulative ground movement map, built from a continuous interferogram stack, did not reveal a subsidence on the upland but showed a distinct subsidence of up to 2 cm in most of the thermokarst basins. There, the spatial pattern of DInSAR-measured subsidence corresponded well with relative surface wetness identified with the near infra-red band of a high-resolution optical image. Our study suggests that (i) although X-band SAR has serious limitations for ground movement monitoring in permafrost landscapes, it can provide valuable information for specific environments like thermokarst basins, and (ii) due to the high sub-pixel spatial variability of ground movements, a validation scheme needs to be developed and implemented for future DInSAR studies in permafrost environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Modeling Wildfire-Induced Permafrost Deformation in an Alaskan Boreal Forest Using InSAR Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030405
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 24 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 March 2018 / Published: 6 March 2018
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Abstract
The discontinuous permafrost zone is one of the world’s most sensitive areas to climate change. Alaskan boreal forest is underlain by discontinuous permafrost, and wildfires are one of the most influential agents negatively impacting the condition of permafrost in the arctic region. Using
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The discontinuous permafrost zone is one of the world’s most sensitive areas to climate change. Alaskan boreal forest is underlain by discontinuous permafrost, and wildfires are one of the most influential agents negatively impacting the condition of permafrost in the arctic region. Using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) of Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) images, we mapped extensive permafrost degradation over interior Alaskan boreal forest in Yukon Flats, induced by the 2009 Big Creek wildfire. Our analyses showed that fire-induced permafrost degradation in the second post-fire thawing season contributed up to 20 cm of ground surface subsidence. We generated post-fire deformation time series and introduced a model that exploited the deformation time series to estimate fire-induced permafrost degradation and changes in active layer thickness. The model showed a wildfire-induced increase of up to 80 cm in active layer thickness in the second post-fire year due to pore-ice permafrost thawing. The model also showed up to 15 cm of permafrost degradation due to excess-ice thawing with little or no increase in active layer thickness. The uncertainties of the estimated change in active layer thickness and the thickness of thawed excess ice permafrost are 27.77 and 1.50 cm, respectively. Our results demonstrate that InSAR-derived deformation measurements along with physics models are capable of quantifying fire-induced permafrost degradation in Alaskan boreal forests underlain by discontinuous permafrost. Our results also have illustrated that fire-induced increase of active layer thickness and excess ice thawing contributed to ground surface subsidence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Remote Sensing of River Erosion on the Colville River, North Slope Alaska
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030397
Received: 27 November 2017 / Revised: 24 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 March 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
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Abstract
The Colville is an Arctic river in the Alaska North Slope. The residents of Nuiqsut rely heavily on the Colville for their subsistence needs. Increased erosion has been reported on the Colville, especially along bluffs, which shaped the goals of this study: to
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The Colville is an Arctic river in the Alaska North Slope. The residents of Nuiqsut rely heavily on the Colville for their subsistence needs. Increased erosion has been reported on the Colville, especially along bluffs, which shaped the goals of this study: to use remote sensing techniques to map and quantify erosion rates and the volume of land loss at selected bluff sites along the main channel of the Colville, and to assess the suitability of automated methods of regional erosion monitoring. We used orthomosaics from high resolution aerial photos acquired in 1955 and 1979/1982, as well as high resolution WorldView-2 images from 2015 to quantify long-term erosion rates and the cubic volume of erosion. We found that, at the selected sites, erosion rates averaged 1 to 3.5 m per year. The erosion rate remained the same at one site and increased from 1955 to 2015 at two of the four sites. We estimated the volume of land loss to be in the magnitude of 166,000 m3 to 2.5 million m3 at our largest site. We also found that estimates of erosion were comparable for manual hand-digitized and automated methods, suggesting our automated method was effective and can be extended to monitor erosion at other sites along river systems that are bordered by bluffs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Permafrost Region Coherence Variation in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau with a High-Resolution TerraSAR-X Image
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020298
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 2 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
The Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP) is heavily affected by climate change and has been undergoing serious permafrost degradation due to global warming. Synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) has been a significant tool for mapping surface features or measuring physical parameters, such as soil moisture,
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The Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP) is heavily affected by climate change and has been undergoing serious permafrost degradation due to global warming. Synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) has been a significant tool for mapping surface features or measuring physical parameters, such as soil moisture, active layer thickness, that can be used for permafrost modelling. This study analyzed variations of coherence in the QTP area for the first time with high-resolution SAR images acquired from June 2014 to August 2016. The coherence variation of typical ground targets was obtained and analyzed. Because of the effects of active-layer (AL) freezing and thawing, coherence maps generated in the Beiluhe permafrost area exhibits seasonal variation. Furthermore, a temporal decorrelation model determined by a linear temporal-decorrelation component plus a seasonal periodic-decorrelation component and a constant component have been proposed. Most of the typical ground targets fit this temporal model. The results clearly indicate that railways and highways can hold high coherence properties over the long term in X-band images. By contrast, mountain slopes and barren areas cannot hold high coherence after one cycle of freezing and thawing. The possible factors (vegetation, soil moisture, soil freezing and thawing, and human activity) affecting InSAR coherence are discussed. This study shows that high-resolution time series of TerraSAR-X coherence can be useful for understanding QTP environments and for other applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Permafrost Distribution along the Qinghai-Tibet Engineering Corridor, China Using High-Resolution Statistical Mapping and Modeling Integrated with Remote Sensing and GIS
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020215
Received: 18 October 2017 / Revised: 5 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
Permafrost distribution in the Qinghai-Tibet Engineering Corridor (QTEC) is of growing interest due to the increase in infrastructure development in this remote area. Empirical models of mountain permafrost distribution have been established based on field sampled data, as a tool for regional-scale assessments
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Permafrost distribution in the Qinghai-Tibet Engineering Corridor (QTEC) is of growing interest due to the increase in infrastructure development in this remote area. Empirical models of mountain permafrost distribution have been established based on field sampled data, as a tool for regional-scale assessments of its distribution. This kind of model approach has never been applied for a large portion of this engineering corridor. In the present study, this methodology is applied to map permafrost distribution throughout the QTEC. After spatial modelling of the mean annual air temperature distribution from MODIS-LST and DEM, using high-resolution satellite image to interpret land surface type, a permafrost probability index was obtained. The evaluation results indicate that the model has an acceptable performance. Conditions highly favorable to permafrost presence (≥70%) are predicted for 60.3% of the study area, declaring a discontinuous permafrost distribution in the QTEC. This map is useful for the infrastructure development along the QTEC. In the future, local ground-truth observations will be required to confirm permafrost presence in favorable areas and to monitor permafrost evolution under the influence of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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Open AccessArticle Vegetation Changes along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Engineering Corridor Since 2000 Induced by Climate Change and Human Activities
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010095
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 28 December 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
The Qinghai-Tibet (QT) Plateau Engineering Corridor is located in the hinterland of the QT Plateau, which is highly sensitive to global climate change. Climate change causes permafrost degradation, which subsequently affects vegetation growth. This study focused on the vegetation dynamics and their relationships
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The Qinghai-Tibet (QT) Plateau Engineering Corridor is located in the hinterland of the QT Plateau, which is highly sensitive to global climate change. Climate change causes permafrost degradation, which subsequently affects vegetation growth. This study focused on the vegetation dynamics and their relationships with climate change and human activities in the region surrounding the QT Plateau Engineering Corridor. The vegetation changes were inferred by applying trend analysis, the Mann-Kendall trend test and abrupt change analysis. Six key regions, each containing 40 nested quadrats that ranged in size from 500 × 500 m to 20 × 20 km, were selected to determine the spatial scales of the impacts from different factors. Cumulative growing season integrated enhanced vegetation index (CGSIEVI) values were calculated for each of the nested quadrats of different sizes to indicate the overall vegetation state over the entire year at different spatial scales. The impacts from human activities, a sudden increase in precipitation and permafrost degradation were quantified at different spatial scales using the CGSIEVI values and meteorological data based on the double mass curve method. Three conclusions were derived. First, the vegetation displayed a significant increasing trend over 23.6% of the study area. The areas displaying increases were mainly distributed in the Hoh Xil. Of the area where the vegetation displayed a significant decreasing trend, 72.4% was made up of alpine meadows. Second, more vegetation, especially the alpine meadows, has begun to degenerate or experience more rapid degradation since 2007 due to permafrost degradation and overgrazing. Finally, an active layer depth of 3 m to 3.2 m represents a limiting depth for alpine meadows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Dynamic Permafrost Regions)
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