Upscaling the investigation of periglacial landforms in the Norwegian Arctic using Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (FrostInSAR)

Upscaling the investigation of periglacial landforms in the Norwegian Arctic using Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (FrostInSAR)

Start-up year

Start-up year: 
2017

Closing year

Closing year: 
2021
Funding: 

The Research Council of Norway.

Partners: 

Norut, The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), The University of Oulu (UOulu), the ESA GlobPermafrost project via the Austrian Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

In perennial frozen ground (permafrost), the upper layer (active layer) is subject to seasonal freeze/thaw. This induces ground heave/subsidence that can affect the stability of infrastructure and slopes. In a context of climate change, the Nordic Arctic is affected by warming and permafrost degradation and is a key region in research in periglacial environments.

FrostInSAR is a Ph.D. project that aims to study the potential of satellite remote sensing to upscale traditional point-scale measurements in periglacial landscapes in the Arctic. The use of Imaging Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is suitable for measurements in the Arctic due to its insensitivity to light and meteorological conditions.

SAR Interferometry (InSAR) can detect at millimeter scale ground deformation between satellite acquisitions, and has proved to be a valuable tool in geosciences especially due to its large coverage capability. By combining InSAR results with field observations and in-situ measurements, the project aims to measure, explain and predict the state and evolution of ground deformation related to freeze/thaw processes.

This will contribute to enable adapted responses from stakeholders to deal with infrastructure and slope stability, and to face the potential consequences of climate change.

The research includes the implementation of signal processing algorithms to suit new SAR data and applications, and the development of explanatory and predictive models relating InSAR deformation to environmental variables. The project focuses on study sites in Northern Norway and Svalbard in areas with perennial frozen ground (permafrost) or seasonally frozen ground.