Special Issue "Dynamic Disturbance Processes in Permafrost Regions"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Biogeosciences Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Mark J. Lara
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Biology/Department of Geography & Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
Interests: multi/hyperspectral image analysis/classification; land cover change processes; permafrost disturbances; carbon/nitrogen cycling; machine learning and big data applications
Dr. Simon Zwieback
Guest Editor
Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
Interests: permafrost remote sensing; periglacial processes; active and passive microwave remote sensing; inverse problems and uncertainty quantification

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Permafrost regions are in transition. Dynamic disturbances such as wildfire and permafrost degradation are restructuring the spatial and temporal distribution of snow, water, vegetation, soil carbon/nutrients, and energy dynamics, with implications for local to global feedbacks. The interdependence of these disturbances makes quantifying their impact challenging, yet paramount for improving our predictive capacity as climate change and disturbance regimes intensify.

In this Special Issue, we aim to advance knowledge of dynamic disturbance processes that impact high-latitude permafrost ecosystems. We welcome submissions on the application of remote sensing to a broad range of disturbances: (1) Thermokarst (vertical surface subsidence) and thermoerosion (lateral transport of sediments via ground ice melt), (2) thermokarst lake dynamics, (3) coastal and fluvial erosion, (4) wildfire–ecosystem interactions, (5) permafrost vegetation interactions, and (6) anthropogenic disturbances. We particularly encourage applications linking two interacting components that influence periglacial ecosystem dynamics (e.g., wildfire and vegetation; thermokarst and hydrology; climate and thermokarst).

Prof. Dr. Mark J. Lara
Dr. Simon Zwieback
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.


  • Climate change 
  • Thermokarst 
  • Thermoerosion 
  • Wildfire 
  • Coastal erosion 
  • Shrub expansion 
  • Disturbance

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Thermokarst detection under shrub-covered areas using high density UAV-based LiDAR
Authors: Shannon Dillard; Christian G. Andresen; Adam Collins; Julian Dann; Cathy Wilson
Affiliation: 1 Geography Department, University of Wisconsin Madison 2 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos National Lab
Abstract: Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies are changing the ways scientists study the Arctic landscape. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based LiDAR collects detailed structural data by returning three-dimensional point clouds of the landscape. LiDAR systems are improving the quality and accuracy of data collection compared to field surveys and aid logistical barriers of research in remote and complicated terrain. Our study mapped thermokarst depressions in a 3 km2 watershed on the Seward Peninsula near Nome, Alaska in 2017 and 2018. The watershed is characterized as tussock permafrost landscape consisting of grasses and mosses interspersed with patches of dense shrubs. By configuring the UAV with a 32 laser swath to fly at 2ms-1 at 15m above ground level, we collected high density point clouds of about 4,000 points m-2, including high density terrain surface points underneath dense shrub patches. We then modeled the sub-vegetation terrain surface at very fine detail to detect and map thermokarst depressions. Combining these high resolution data with vegetation surveys and topographic properties, we tested the relationship between permafrost subsidence, thermokarst depressions and vegetation type, specifically the relationships of shrub metrics to thermokarst features. The technologies used in our study have implications for predicting the development of future thermokarst in shrub-covered areas in the Arctic.

Back to TopTop