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

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 landscape dynamics in the Arctic. By combining ground deformation derived from Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR) 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 instability and to face the potential consequences of climate change.

The Ph.D. 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. Sentinel-1a/b will provide valuable data to overcome some limitations of the technology related to phase ambiguity and coherence loss thanks to its short repeat pass and frequency. In addition, Radarsat-2 and TerraSAR-X data will contribute to get better spatial resolution.

The project is designed to include study sites in Northern Norway and Svalbard in areas with perennial frozen ground (permafrost) or seasonally frozen ground. The project includes partners from Norut, The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), The University of Oulu (UOulu), the ESA GlobPermafrost project via the coordinating partner ZAMG, the Austrian Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).