Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2018, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (2): 114-125.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2018.00114

• Articles • Previous Articles    

Surface-deformation monitoring in the permafrost regions over the Tibetan Plateau, using Sentinel-1 data

ZhenMing Wu1,2, Lin Zhao1,2, Lin Liu3, Rui Zhu1,4, ZeShen Gao1, YongPing Qiao1, LiMing Tian1,2, HuaYun Zhou1,4, MeiZhen Xie1,2   

  1. 1. Cryosphere Research Station on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3. Earth System Science Programme, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong 999077, China;
    4. Faculty of Geomatics, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730070, China
  • Received:2017-11-20 Revised:2018-01-04 Published:2018-11-22
  • Contact: Lin Zhao,
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the Innovation Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41421061), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KJZD-EW-G03-02), the project of the State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science (SKLCS-ZZ- 2017), and CUHK Direct Grant (4053206). The Sentinel-1 SAR data were provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) through Sentinels Scientific Data Hub.

Abstract: Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (D-InSAR) has been widely used to measure surface deformation over the Tibetan Plateau. However, the accuracy and applicability of the D-InSAR method are not well estimated due to the lack of in-situ validation. In this paper, we mapped the seasonal and long-term displacement of Tanggula (TGL) and Liangdaohe (LDH) permafrost regions with a stack of Sentinel-1 acquisitions using the Small Baseline Subset InSAR (SBAS-InSAR) method. In the TGL region, with its dry soils and sparse vegetation, the InSAR-derived surface-deformation trend was consistent with ground-based leveling results; long-term changes of the active layer showed a settlement rate of around 1 to 3 mm/a due to the melting of ground ice, indicating a degrading permafrost in this area. Around half of the deformation was picked up on monitoring, in contrast with in-situ measurements in LDH, implying that the D-InSAR method remarkably underestimated the surface-deformation. This phenomenon may be induced by the large soil-water content, high vegetation coverage, or a combination of these two factors in this region. This study demonstrates that surface deformation could be mapped accurately for a specific region with Sentinel-1 C-band data, such as in the TGL region. Moreover, although the D-InSAR technology provides an efficient solution for broad surface-deformation monitoring in permafrost regions, it shows a poor performance in the region with high soil-water content and dense vegetation coverage.

Key words: deformation, permafrost, SBAS-InSAR, leveling, Sentinel-1, Tibetan Plateau

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