Satellite Earth Observation (EO) is often used as a cost-effective method to report on the condition of remote and inaccessible peatland areas. Current EO techniques are primarily limited to reporting on the vegetation classes and properties of the immediate peat surface using optical data, which can be used to infer peatland condition. Another useful indicator of peatland condition is that of surface motion, which has the potential to report on mass accumulation and loss of peat. Interferometic SAR (InSAR) techniques can provide this using data from space. However, the most common InSAR techniques for information extraction, such as Persistent Scatterers’ Interferometry (PSI), have seen limited application over peat as they are primarily tuned to work in areas of high coherence (i.e., on hard, non-vegetated surfaces only). A new InSAR technique, called the Intermittent Small BAseline Subset (ISBAS) method, has been recently developed to provide measurements over vegetated areas from SAR data acquired by satellite sensors. This paper examines the feasibility of the ISBAS technique for monitoring long-term surface motion over peatland areas of the Flow Country, in the northeast of Scotland. In particular, the surface motions estimated are compared with ground data over a small forested area (namely the Bad a Cheo forest Reserve). Two sets of satellite SAR data are used: ERS C-band images, covering the period 1992–2000, and Sentinel-1 C-band images, covering the period 2015–2016. We show that the ISBAS measurements are able to identify surface motion over peatland areas, where subsidence is a consequence of known land cover/land use. In particular, the ISBAS products agree with the trend of surface motion, but there are uncertainties with their magnitude and direction (vertical). It is concluded that there is a potential for the ISBAS method to be able to report on trends in subsidence and uplift over peatland areas, and this paper suggests avenues for further investigation, but this requires a well-resourced validation campaign.
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