Permafrost extent (PE) and active layer thickness (ALT) are important for assessing high northern latitude (HNL) ecological and hydrological processes, and potential land-atmosphere carbon and climate feedbacks. We developed a new approach to infer PE from satellite microwave remote sensing of daily landscape freeze-thaw (FT) status. Our results document, for the first time, the use of satellite microwave FT observations for monitoring permafrost extent and condition. The FT observations define near-surface thermal status used to determine permafrost extent and stability over a 30-year (1980-2009) satellite record. The PE results showed similar performance against independent inventory and process model (CHANGE) estimates, but with larger differences over heterogeneous permafrost subzones. A consistent decline in the ensemble mean of permafrost areas (-0.33 million km2 decade-1; p < 0.05) coincides with regional warming (0.4 °C decade-1; p < 0.01), while more than 40% (9.6 million km2) of permafrost areas are vulnerable to degradation based on the 30-year PE record. ALT estimates determined from satellite (MODIS) and ERA-Interim temperatures, and CHANGE simulations, compared favorably with independent field observations and indicate deepening ALT trends consistent with widespread permafrost degradation under recent climate change.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Remote Sensing of Environment|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 15 2016|
- Active layer thickness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science
- Computers in Earth Sciences