Freezing and thawing of the land surface affects ecosystem and hydrological processes, the geotechnical properties of soil and slope stability. Currently, available datasets on land surface state lack either sufficient temporal or spatial resolution to adequately characterize the complexity of freeze/thaw transition period dynamics. Surface state changes can be detected using microwave remote sensing methods. Data available from scatterometer and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors have been used in the past in regional- to continental-scale approaches to monitor freeze/thaw transitions. This study aims to identify temporal and spatial patterns in freeze/thaw dynamics associated with the issue of differing temporal and spatial resolutions. For this purpose, two datasets representing the timing of freeze/thaw cycles at different resolutions and spatial extents were chosen. The used Advanced SCATterometer (ASCAT) Surface State Product offers daily circumpolar information from 2007–2013 for a 12.5-km grid. The SAR freeze/thaw product offers information of day of thawing and freezing for the years 2005–2010 with a nominal resolution of 500 m and a temporal resolution of up to twice per week. In order to assess the importance of scale when describing temporal and spatial patterns of freeze/thaw processes, the two datasets were compared for spring and autumn periods for the maximum number of overlapping years 2007–2010. The analysis revealed non-linear landscape specific relationships between the two scales, as well as distinct differences between the results for thawing and re-freezing periods. The results suggest that the integration of globally available high temporal resolution scatterometer data and higher spatial resolution SAR data could be a promising step towards monitoring surface state changes on a seasonal, as well as daily and circumpolar, as well as local scale.
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