Special Issue "Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics"

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 (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Stéphane Guillaso
Website
Guest Editor
Remote Sensing Section 1.4, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany
Interests: radar remote sensing; optical remote sensing; electromagnetism; permafrost; periglacial regions
Dr. Franck Garestier
Website
Guest Editor
Remote Sensing Group, lab M2C, UMR CNRS 6143, 24, rue des Tilleuls, University of Caen-Normandy, 14000 Caen, France
Interests: SAR interferometry; permafrost
Dr. Elena Zakharova

Guest Editor
IRSTEA, 3275, Route de Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, 13182, France
Interests: hydrology; altimetry; optical imagery; cold regions
Dr. Thomas Schmid

Guest Editor
Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas, Avenida Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: soil; periglacial processes; optical remote sensing; SAR; Antarctica

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The thawing of permafrost due to global warming is an increasing problem and is evermore affecting polar and high-altitude regions that are regarded as the most climate-sensitive places on Earth. The consequences of the release of greenhouse gases, altered landscapes, and crumbling infrastructures due to unstable ground are already starting to cause devastating effects on ecosystems and communities living within these regions.

The monitoring of these phenomena often requires the use of remote sensed (optical, thermal, and/or radar) data where access to a site of interest is often time consuming and costly. Furthermore, new sensor technologies with high spatial and temporal resolutions and advanced remote sensing data processing capacities create new opportunities for periglacial studies.

This Special Issue aims to present new and/or innovative methods/approaches/products to characterize the permafrost environment dynamics using remote sensing data. We welcome original manuscripts that use different remotely sensed data available from field to satellite-borne sensors for describing the characteristics and dynamics of permafrost environments. Submissions using multiple scales and time series data together with field observations and measurements are encouraged.

Dr. Stéphane Guillaso
Dr. Franck Garestier
Dr. Elena Zakharova
Dr. Thomas Schmid
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 semimonthly 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 2200 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

  • Remote sensing
  • Permafrost environment dynamics
  • Field observations
  • Soil development
  • Periglacial processes
  • Time series

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Soil Moisture Calibration Equations for Active Layer GPR Detection—a Case Study Specially for the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau Permafrost Regions
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(4), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12040605 - 11 Feb 2020
Abstract
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a convenient geophysical technique for active-layer soil moisture detection in permafrost regions, which is theoretically based on the petrophysical relationship between soil moisture (θ) and the soil dielectric constant (ε). The θ–ε relationship varies with soil type and thus [...] Read more.
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a convenient geophysical technique for active-layer soil moisture detection in permafrost regions, which is theoretically based on the petrophysical relationship between soil moisture (θ) and the soil dielectric constant (ε). The θ–ε relationship varies with soil type and thus must be calibrated for a specific region or soil type. At present, there is lack of such a relationship for active-layer soil moisture estimation for the Qinghai–Tibet plateau permafrost regions. In this paper, we utilize the Complex Refractive Index Model to establish such a calibration equation that is suitable for active-layer soil moisture estimation with GPR velocity. Based on the relationship between liquid water, temperature, and salinity, the soil water dielectric constant was determined, which varied from 84 to 88, with an average value of 86 within the active layer for our research regions. Based on the calculated soil-water dielectric constant variation range, and the exponent value range within the Complex Refractive Index Model, the exponent value was determined as 0.26 with our field-investigated active-layer soil moisture and dielectric data set. By neglecting the influence of the soil matrix dielectric constant and soil porosity variations on soil moisture estimation at the regional scale, a simple active-layer soil moisture calibration curve, named CRIM, which is suitable for the Qinghai–Tibet plateau permafrost regions, was established. The main shortage of the CRIM calibration equation is that its calculated soil-moisture error will gradually increase with a decreasing GPR velocity and an increasing GPR velocity interpretation error. To avoid this shortage, a direct linear fitting calibration equation, named as υ-fitting, was acquired based on the statistical relationship between the active-layer soil moisture and GPR velocity with our field-investigated data set. When the GPR velocity interpretation error is within ±0.004 m/ns, the maximum moisture error calculated by CRIM is within 0.08 m3/m3. While when the GPR velocity interpretation error is larger than ±0.004 m/ns, a piecewise formula calculation method, combined with the υ-fitting equation when the GPR velocity is lower than 0.07 m/ns and the CRIM equation when the GPR velocity is larger than 0.07 m/ns, was recommended for the active-layer moisture estimation with GPR detection in the Qinghai–Tibet plateau permafrost regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics)
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring Rock Glacier Kinematics with Satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(3), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12030559 - 07 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Active rock glaciers represent the best visual expression of mountain permafrost that can be mapped and monitored directly using remotely sensed data. Active rock glaciers are bodies that consist of a perennially frozen ice/rock mixture and express a distinct flow-like morphology indicating downslope [...] Read more.
Active rock glaciers represent the best visual expression of mountain permafrost that can be mapped and monitored directly using remotely sensed data. Active rock glaciers are bodies that consist of a perennially frozen ice/rock mixture and express a distinct flow-like morphology indicating downslope permafrost creep movement. Annual rates of motion have ranged from a few millimeters to several meters per year, varying within the annual cycle, from year to year, as well as at the decennial time scale. During the last decade, in situ observations in the European Alps have shown that active rock glaciers are responding almost synchronously to inter-annual and decennial changes in ground temperature, suggesting that the relative changes of their kinematics are a general indicator of the evolution of mountain permafrost conditions. Here, we used satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) to monitor the rate of motion of various active rock glaciers in the Swiss Alps, Qeqertarsuaq (Western Greenland), and the semiarid Andes of South America. Velocity time series computed with Sentinel-1 SAR images, regularly acquired since 2014, every six days over Europe and Greenland and every 12 days over the Andes, show annual fluctuations, with higher velocities at the end of the summer. A JERS-1 image pair of 1996 and stacks of very high-resolution SAR images from TerraSAR-X and Cosmo-SkyMed from 2008 to 2017 were analyzed using InSAR and offset tracking over the Western Swiss Alps in order to extend the main observation period of our study. A quantitative assessment of the accuracy of InSAR and offset tracking was performed by comparison with in situ methods. Our results for the three different study regions demonstrate that Sentinel-1 InSAR can complement worldwide in situ measurements of active rock glacier kinematics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics)
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Open AccessArticle
Evolution of Near-Shore Outwash Fans and Permafrost Spreading Under Their Surface: A Case Study from Svalbard
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(3), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12030482 - 03 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The article presents geomorphological analysis results for two outwash fans (sandurs), Elveflya and Nottingham, in the marginal zone of the Werenskiold Glacier in the south-west part of the Spitsbergen. The main goal of this study was to reconstruct the morphological evolution of these [...] Read more.
The article presents geomorphological analysis results for two outwash fans (sandurs), Elveflya and Nottingham, in the marginal zone of the Werenskiold Glacier in the south-west part of the Spitsbergen. The main goal of this study was to reconstruct the morphological evolution of these landforms and to identify the permafrost zone under their surface. For this purpose, age data of fossils were compiled and compared with newly exposed and dated fossil tundra in the layer glaciotectonically deformed by the forming glacier end moraine. Using this method, a time frame was identified for the glacier advance and for the simultaneous formation of the outwash plains. It was concluded that the Elveflya surface has been built-up with deposits since the Little Ice Age. Sediment deposition ended in the late 1960s, due to hydrographic changes and the redirection of all proglacial waters towards the Nottingham bay. A photointerpretation analysis based on two orthophotomaps and LANDSAT scenes allowed the identification of five microfans in Elveflya, of which two youngest fans have a twice shorter range than the other three. The sixth microfan is currently shaped by deposits washed from the slope of the end moraine. An additional focus was placed on a currently active sandur, which fills the Nottingham bay, in order to identify its growth rate. The average growth rate of this surface increased from 5700 m2·year−1 over the period of 1985–2000 to 24,900 m2·year−1 over the period of 2010–2017. Electromagnetic measurements carried out on the surfaces of the sandurs demonstrated that the electrical resistivity of the ground is high in the apex of the Elveflya fan (ρ ≥ 1 kΩ.m) and low in its toe (typically ρ < 200 Ω.m), as in the case of the Nottingham fan ground. In the interpretation advanced here, permafrost developed in the proximal part of the Elveflya sandur, which continues to be supplied by fresh groundwaters flowing from the glacier direction. Low electrical resistivity of the ground in the distal part of the outwash fan suggests the absence of ground ice in this zone, which is subjected to the intrusion of salty and comparatively warm seawater, reaching approximately 1 km inland under the surface of the low-elevated marine terrace. The identified zones additionally display different tendencies for vertical movements of the terrain surface, as identified with the Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) method. The proximal part of the Elveflya outwash fan is relatively stable, while its distal part lowers in the summer period by a maximum of 5 cm. The resulting morphological changes include linear cracks having lengths up to 580 m and an arc line consistent with the coastline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Spatiotemporal Variations of Landsat Land Surface Temperature and Multispectral Indices in the Arctic Mackenzie Delta Region between 1985 and 2018
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(19), 2329; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11192329 - 08 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Air temperatures in the Arctic have increased substantially over the last decades, which has extensively altered the properties of the land surface. Capturing the state and dynamics of Land Surface Temperatures (LSTs) at high spatial detail is of high interest as LST is [...] Read more.
Air temperatures in the Arctic have increased substantially over the last decades, which has extensively altered the properties of the land surface. Capturing the state and dynamics of Land Surface Temperatures (LSTs) at high spatial detail is of high interest as LST is dependent on a variety of surficial properties and characterizes the land–atmosphere exchange of energy. Accordingly, this study analyses the influence of different physical surface properties on the long-term mean of the summer LST in the Arctic Mackenzie Delta Region (MDR) using Landsat 30 m-resolution imagery between 1985 and 2018 by taking advantage of the cloud computing capabilities of the Google Earth Engine. Multispectral indices, including the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) and Tasseled Cap greenness (TCG), brightness (TCB), and wetness (TCW) as well as topographic features derived from the TanDEM-X digital elevation model are used in correlation and multiple linear regression analyses to reveal their influence on the LST. Furthermore, surface alteration trends of the LST, NDVI, and NDWI are revealed using the Theil-Sen (T-S) regression method. The results indicate that the mean summer LST appears to be mostly influenced by the topographic exposition as well as the prevalent moisture regime where higher evapotranspiration rates increase the latent heat flux and cause a cooling of the surface, as the variance is best explained by the TCW and northness of the terrain. However, fairly diverse model outcomes for different regions of the MDR (R2 from 0.31 to 0.74 and RMSE from 0.51 °C to 1.73 °C) highlight the heterogeneity of the landscape in terms of influential factors and suggests accounting for a broad spectrum of different factors when modeling mean LSTs. The T-S analysis revealed large-scale wetting and greening trends with a mean decadal increase of the NDVI/NDWI of approximately +0.03 between 1985 and 2018, which was mostly accompanied by a cooling of the land surface given the inverse relationship between mean LSTs and vegetation and moisture conditions. Disturbance through wildfires intensifies the surface alterations locally and lead to significantly cooler LSTs in the long-term compared to the undisturbed surroundings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics)
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Open AccessArticle
Seasonal Progression of Ground Displacement Identified with Satellite Radar Interferometry and the Impact of Unusually Warm Conditions on Permafrost at the Yamal Peninsula in 2016
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(16), 1865; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11161865 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
Ground subsidence monitoring by Synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry (InSAR) over Arctic permafrost areas is largely limited by long revisit intervals, which can lead to signal decorrelation. Recent satellite missions such as COSMO-Skymed (X-band) and Sentinel-1 (C-band) have comparably short time intervals of a [...] Read more.
Ground subsidence monitoring by Synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry (InSAR) over Arctic permafrost areas is largely limited by long revisit intervals, which can lead to signal decorrelation. Recent satellite missions such as COSMO-Skymed (X-band) and Sentinel-1 (C-band) have comparably short time intervals of a few days. We analyze dense records of COSMO-Skymed from 2013 and 2016 and of Sentinel-1 from 2016, 2017, and 2018 for the unfrozen period over central Yamal (Russia). These years were distinct in environmental conditions and 2016 in particular was unusually warm. We evaluate the InSAR-derived displacement with in situ subsidence records, active-layer thickness measurements, borehole temperature records, meteorological data, C-band scatterometer records, and a land-cover classification based on Sentinel-1 and -2 data. Our results indicate that a comparison of seasonal thaw evolution between years is feasible after accounting for the early thaw data gap in InSAR time series (as a result of snow cover) through an assessment with respect to degree-days of thawing. Average rates of subsidence agree between in situ and Sentinel-1 (corrected for viewing geometry), with 3.9 mm and 4.3 mm per 100 degree-days of thaw at the test site. X-band and C-band records agree well with each other, including seasonal evolution of subsidence. The average displacement is more than twice in magnitude at the active-layer monitoring test site in 2016 compared to the other years. We further demonstrate that InSAR displacement can not only provide information on the magnitude of ground thaw but also on soil properties through analyses of seasonal evolution in extreme years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Permafrost Environment Dynamics)
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