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: 16425
Organization: German Aerospace Center DLR e. V.
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2018
Issued: Dec 10, 2018

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: For this project the research team will conduct the 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. Activities will be performed in two main regions: discontinuous permafrost and continuous permafrost.

The research team aims at conducting an airborne SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) campaign involving its multi-frequency, polarimetric F-SAR instrument onboard a research aircraft of type DO228 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. Real field work is not part of this campaign except for the installation of radar reflectors at Yellowknife airport. For getting necessary ground measurements DLR cooperates with partners in Canada (i.e. University of Guelph, NRCan and others).

The 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 Aurora Research Institute 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.

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 March 1, 2019 to April 18, 2019.