Widespread permafrost vulnerability and soil active layer increases over the high northern latitudes inferred from satellite remote sensing and process model assessments

Hotaek Park, Youngwook Kim, John S. Kimball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Volume175
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Active layer thickness
  • CHANGE
  • FT-ESDR
  • Freeze/thaw
  • Permafrost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Widespread permafrost vulnerability and soil active layer increases over the high northern latitudes inferred from satellite remote sensing and process model assessments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this