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Summary of Proposal CAL3136

TitleTerraSAR-X imagery for validation and calibration of the snow cover characteristics in the study of its effects on the frozen ground thermal regime (permafrost territories) in Maritime Antarctica
Investigator de Pablo, Miguel A. - Universidad de Alcalá, Geología, Geografía y Medio Ambiente
Team Member
Dr. Vieira, Gonçalo - IGOT-Universidade de Lisboa, Centro de Estudos Geográficos
Dr. Ramos, Miguel - University of Alcalá, Physics and Mathematics Department
MSc. Jimenez, Javier - University of Alcalá, Physics and Mathematics Department
MSc. Molina, Antonio - University of Alcalá, Geology, Geography and Natural Environment
Dr. Recondo, Carmen - University of Oviedo, Institute of Natural Resources and Territorial Planning (INDUROT)
Dr. Mora, Carla - IGOT-University of Lisbon, Research Group on Climate Change and Environmental Systems - ZEPHYRUS
Peón Garcia, Juan José - University of Oviedo, Dpto. de Explotacion y Prospeccion de Minas
SummaryThe study of the thermal properties of frozen soils (permafrost) and its temporal evolution in Livingston and Deception Islands has been our research topic in the past two decades, within TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost), GTN-P (Ground Terrestrial Network – Permafrost) and CALM (Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring) international networks from the International Permafrost Association, focussed on the study of the effects of climate change on this element of the cryosphere.After thermally characterizing the soils of the study sites during the previous projects, this proposal seeks to know the role of snow cover in the thermal behavior of the soil and the thickness of the active layer, based on the preliminary observations of increased snow layer thickness and lifespan.The insulating effect of snow from a critical thickness could be the cause of the observed thermal evolution of permafrost and the active layer in the last years, and the consequent degradation of the permafrost layer. Based on this hypothesis, the aim of the approved and funded “PERMASNOW” project (CTM2014-52021-R by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain), lead by Miguel Angel de Pablo, brings together researchers from Spain, Portugal, and the Czech Republic, with the common goal of characterizing the snow cover during the year through the use of:a) high-resolution snow monitoring stations (thickness, density, water equivalent and duration) at a representative place of each monitoring site in Livingston and Deception Islands;b) thermal-snow-devices (thickness and duration) distributed on each CALM site grid;c) automatic digital cameras;d) field measurements of various parameters in each CALM site node (thickness, density, stratigraphy, texture, moisture and water equivalent); and e) remote sensing with microwave sensors adapted to the weather and climatic conditions in the zone.These methods will result on the characterize and parameterize snow layer in each CALM site in general, and the mesh nodes in a particular way, mapping the spatial and temporal evolution of the snow cover. These results will be then compared then with the thermal characteristics of the permafrost and the active layer obtained from the TSP stations and the measured thickness of the active layer, for possible correlation patterns. Moreover, the minimum thickness of snow cover resulting in a significant insulating effect may be established.For comparison and contrast the final results, we will exploit data from James Ross Island CALM sites. The interesting characteristic of those sites is the lower snow precipitation during the winter compared to the South Shetland Islands, due to colder weather conditions in the Eastern region of the Antarctic Peninsula.All these data will be used as ground truthing for validation and calibration purposes in the characterization of snow cover and its evolution through remote sensing. Primary with ASTER data used for snow cover and surface color and albedo characterization (15 m/pixel in resolution) to correlate these factors with the measured field values from stations.TerraSAR-X High-Resolution SpotLight imagery is a key discrimination tool in high cloudiness environments, as the Antarctic areas. They will be used to derive high spatial resolution maps of the terrain features and the snow cover distribution during the year in the three-year study period.The obtained results with the new techniques and processes that will be developed and applied in the CALM grids areas will be contrasted with the field truth to validation. The susccess on this will incentivize future projects to study the state of permafrost regarding of the characteristics of snow cover at the regional scale.

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