PermASAR - Airborne SAR campaign on permafrost soils and boreal forests in the Canadian North-West

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, permafrost, remote sensing, ground penetrating radar

Principal Investigator: Hajnsek, Irena (2)
Licence Number: 16323
Organization: German Aerospace Center DLR e. V.
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2018
Issued: Jun 05, 2018
Project Team: Irena Hajnsek (Principle Investigator, DLR), Ralf Horn (Mission Manager, DLR), Martin Keller (Mission Operations, DLR), Daniel Gesswein (Radar Operations, DLR), Hannah Joerg (Science Specialist, DLR), Frank Probst (Aircraft Operations, DLR), Philipp Weber (Aircraft Pilot, DLR), Stefan Grillenbeck (Aircraft Pilot, DLR), Thomas van Marwick (Aircraft Pilot, DLR), Helmut Kirner (Aircraft Pilot, Freelance), Ralph Helmes (Aircraft Engineer, DLR), Vlatco Ruzela (Aircraft Engineer, DLR), Wolfhard Geile (Public Relations, DLR), Rolf Scheiber (Mission Operations, DLR)

Objective(s): To collect microwave radar backscatter data of permafrost and boreal forest; to capture two stable permafrost active layer states: thawed and frozen; and to derive information about permafrost (e.g. soil status, soil moisture) and about forest (e.g. structure, biomass) from collected data.

Project Description: Collection of microwave radar backscatter data of permafrost and boreal forest at wavelengths of 3cm (X-band), 6cm (C-band), 10cm (S-band) and 23cm (L-band). This process will capture two stable permafrost active layer states: thawed and frozen. The research team will derive information about permafrost (e.g. soil status, soil moisture) and about forest (e.g. structure, biomass) from collected data. Perform activities in two main regions: discontinuous permafrost and continuous permafrost.

The project team aim at conducting an airborne SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) campaign involving its multi-frequency, polarimetric F-SAR instrument onboard a research aircraft in the Canadian Northwest. Aircraft and instrument shall be based at Yellowknife and Inuvik airports for short periods during a mission. The campaign shall consist of two missions, to capture the thawed condition of the soil plus influences from vegetation in summer 2018 and the frozen ground in winter 2019. Only F-SAR flight missions shall be performed (remote sensing), at approx. 14000ft flying altitude simulating the future satellite system. A flight has a typical duration of four hours. For each of the named sites a single flight is planned as the baseline. For Siksik Creek a diurnal observation is planned on top (i.e. two or three short flights during daylight hours). For instrument calibration a special calibration site at Yellowknife airport shall be flown at 14 day intervals. In the same flights the Baker Creek site shall be flown as well to simulate the 14 day repeat cycle of the Tandem-L satellite. Radar reflectors will be installed at Yellowknife airport. For getting necessary ground measurements the project team cooperates with partners in Canada (i.e. University of Guelph, NRCan and others).

This mission is all about airborne radar remote sensing of permafrost and boreal forests in Canadian arctic regions. No ground work will be involved except for setting up radar reflectors at Yellowknife airport. However, while being based at Inuvik the research team intend to present the project to the public by means of a presentation at the Western Arctic Research Center (or other location) and a visit to the research airplane stationed at the airport. First, preliminary results of the work, as far as they are available, shall be presented.

The research team intend to present the project and its aims in the course of the first mission in summer 2018 while staying in Inuvik. If available by then already, preliminary results shall be shown. This procedure shall be repeated in 2019, this time including first real results. Later on during the course of data analysis and when it is completed, results and findings shall be published (scientific papers, conference proceedings, other).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 16, 2018 to August 29, 2018.