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Summary of Proposal LAN0500

TitleUsing TerraSAR-X for the monitoring and modelling of snow cover dynamics and permafrost decline in Northern Quebec
Investigator Jagdhuber, Thomas - German Aerospace Center, Radar Concepts
Team Member
Dr. Hajnsek, Irena - German Aerospace Center, Microwave and Radar Institute
SummaryThe proposed study, conducted in the framework of ArcticNet and co-funded within a DFG international collaboration project, is intended to support the development of a monitoring system strongly based on remote sensing imagery and field data analysis. It shall be investigated, to which extent the interpretation of multi-scale, multi-sensoral and multiparametric satellite imagery is feasible to provide spatial knowledge about the major indicators that are lent to describe permafrost dynamics and ecosystem change. Remote sensing shall be employed to feed modeling systems by ways of parameter retrieval and data assimilation. Two possible developments will be examined: i) a process-based environmental model to simulate spatial and temporal snow cover distribution and energy fluxes to assess the dynamics of permafrost under current and climate change conditions and ii) an indicator-based model to describe permafrost distribution and dynamics by means of topographic, vegetation and soil indicators, which can be monitored spatially on a regular basis and may thus be transferable to larger areas.
The focus of this research initiative is to establish a concise remote sensing-based high-resolution monitoring and modeling network for the assessment of permafrost dynamics in Northern Quebec. Due to the manifold influencing or driving factors for permafrost decline, it will be a very challenging task to i) identify and unfold the potential of image interpretation for parameter/indicator retrieval and to ii) conceptualize an environmental model that makes use of image products by ways of data assimilation. The first phase of this project initiative is dedicated towards the assessment of remote sensing and field data analysis.
A multi-sensor and multi-temporal monitoring framework is established, based on data from several high-(to medium)-resolution sensors covering the reflective, thermal and microwave domain. In the optical domain, a sensor-constellation is envisaged which comprises multi-temporal IKONOS imagery for land cover classification, feature delineation and change detection and ASTER for land cover classification, scale analysis and the monitoring of heterogeneities in thermal conductivity of snow cover. The microwave domain is represented by TerraSAR-X and RADARSAT-2. The polarimetric capabilities of both sensors shall be combined to assess permafrost, snow and soil characteristics in northern environments. It shall be investigated, whether a synergetic utilization of the multi-frequent polarimetric signals can be related to snow and land surface properties, which support the localization of subsurface permafrost structures by means of direct measurements or other indicators (e.g. early appearance of soil saturation).
In stripmap mode, TerraSAR-X offers Repeat-Pass Interferometric products within an 11-day cycle. It is expected that micro-topographic changes, related to thawing and freezing processes (e.g. in palsars and eventually larger scale changes such as landslides), can be detected in an annual cycle and areas of significant change can be identified, described and mapped by means of multi-temporal high-resolution InSAR-DEMs from TerraSAR-X. In the course of the project, 18 TerraSAR-X strip-map mode products will be required. Processing of the data will be handled at DLR-HR, providing interferometric phase and coherence for an high accurate assessment of terrain deformations. It shall further be examined, also in combination with RADARSAT-2 data, whether the TerraSAR-X information can be applied to retrieve the spatio-temporal course of snow water equivalent and snow depth, essentially needed to describe the development of the active (permafrost) layer.

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DLR 2004-2016