PermaSAR: Development of a method to detect subsidence by means of D-InSAR in permafrost regions

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: permafrost, subsidence

Principal Investigator: Höfle, Bernhard (2)
Licence Number: 15669
Organization: Heidelberg University, Institute of Geography
Licensed Year(s): 2016 2015
Issued: May 07, 2015
Project Team: Moritz Langer (Research Staff, Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research), Trevor Lantz (Cooperation partner, University of Victoria), Sabrina Marx (Research Staff, Heidelberg University), Inga Beck (Research Staff, Alfred-Wegener Institute / Heidelberg University), Julia Boike (Research Supervisor, Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research), Bernhard Höfle (PI, Heidelberg University)

Objective(s): To develop a new method that improves the detection of vertical movements caused by thawing and freezing processes of the permafrost.

Project Description: The goal of the proposed study is to develop a new method that improves the detection of vertical movements caused by thawing and freezing processes of the permafrost. Previous studies showed the theoretical use of remote sensing data for such surface deformations, but also highlighted limitations. As these thawing and freezing processes are mainly responsible for streets breaking apart, buildings get cracks and potentially collapse, it is essential for science, economy and politics to quantify these processes in order to identify potential subsidence areas (“early warning system”) and to provide information to the local organization authorities to avoid severe damage.

This project will use a multi-source approach to detect vertical movements of the topography, based on:
(1) Ground-truth records (using a differential GPS and subsidence stations). The differential GPS well be used during the field campaigns to get exact information about height and coordinates of certain features. It is used in a non-invasive and non-destructive way. For the subsidence stations carbon rods with a plexiglas plate, for manual measurements has to be installed. The pipe is 1 cm in diameter. It has been inserted about 1-2 m into the ground).
(2) Terrestrial Laser scanning to assess the microtopography and low tundra vegetation. The ground-based technology enables gathering a very detailed geometric representation of the topography in a non-invasive and non-destructive way. Furthermore, RADAR data (TanDEM-X) for differential interferometry will be employed as well as optical remote sensed data for further evaluations.

For the field work the research team is intending to engage a local person for assistance. Once the project is finished to the team will go to the local school to organize a little workshop about the results with the students. All results of the research will be freely available to the communities. The community will be informed via meetings during the research team’s stay about the projects as well about the results.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 1, 2015 to September 30, 2015.