PermaSAR: Development of a method to detect subsidence by means of DInSAR in permafrost regions

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, permafrost, remote sensing, subsidence

Principal Investigator: Höfle, Bernhard (2)
Licence Number: 15914
Organization: Heidelberg University, Institute of Geography
Licensed Year(s): 2016 2015
Issued: Jun 27, 2016
Project Team: Katharina Anders (Research Staff, Heidelberg University), Inga Beck (Research Staff, Heidelberg University), Sabrina Marx (Research Staff, Heidelberg University), Phil Marsh (Cooperation partner, Wilfrid Laurier University), Trevor Lantz (Cooperation partner, University of Victoria)

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 such things as streets breaking apart, and buildings getting cracks and potentially collapsing, 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 for manual measurements have been already installed.

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.

3) Manual and automated soil moisture and temperature station. The sensors from installation will be hooked up to a datalogger for automated measurements.

Furthermore, RADAR data (TanDEM-X) for differential interferometry will be employed as well as optical remote sensed data for further evaluations.

The results of the research will be freely available for the community. Once the project is finished the research team are intending to go to a local school to organize a little workshop about the results with the students. The community will be informed via meetings about our projects as well about the results.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 14, 2016 to September 17, 2016.