Monitoring and interpretation of hydrological and landcover parameters in climate change affected permafrost regions using satellite active microwave data (Climatic change observed by satellites)

2006-12-01 – 2009-11-30

Periglacial environments are highly sensitive to climate change. Expected impacts are changes in water balance in all permafrost affected areas, the increased release of greenhouse gases in especially high latitude lowlands and an increased frequency and magnitude of mass movements in high mountain permafrost regions. What exactly are the consequences of global climate change on permafrost dynamics and extent? Knowledge about these patterns will allow enhanced quantification of changes in the carbon cycle together with impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and feedbacks. In order to follow this question up, spatial seasonal and inter-annual patterns of biogeophysical parameters need to be investigated over a longer time period and over large regions. For this project remotely sensed data have been chosen to monitor these changes. Such data have not only been proven applicable for investigation on regional and global scale, there have been recent advances considering monitoring of parameters which can be associated with permafrost. It is aspired to utilize the potential of existing microwave remote sensing analysis techniques and products rather than developing completely new data analyses methods. Special emphasis is put on bridging the gap between remote sensing technology and application.The effect of climate change in permafrost regions does highly impact hydrology. Thus, the primary parameters of interest for this study are relative soil moisture in the surface layer, inundation and freeze/thaw. Their seasonal and inter-annual dynamics will be analyzed with respect to permafrost. Study areas cover large proportions of Siberian and the Tibetan plateau. They represent all types of permafrost (continuous, discontinuous and sporadic) and climate regions: latitudinal and altitudinal permafrost.During the initial phase of the project, products from three different microwave sensors will be assessed for their suitability of the proposed purpose. The second phase encompasses the time series analyses. The products cover up to 15 years. Latest data from all sensors will be permanently incorporated. Finally, the observed changes will be compared with results from available permafrost models.

Project manager