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Mapping Retrogressive Thaw Slumps Using Single-Pass TanDEM-X Observations

Bernhard, Philipp and Zwieback, Simon and Leinss, Silvan and Hajnsek, Irena (2020) Mapping Retrogressive Thaw Slumps Using Single-Pass TanDEM-X Observations. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 13, pp. 3263-3280. IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2020.3000648. ISSN 1939-1404.

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Official URL: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9110800


Vast areas of the Arctic host ice-rich permafrost, which is becoming increasingly vulnerable to terrain-altering thermokarst in a warming climate. Among the most rapid and dramatic changes are retrogressive thaw slumps. These slumps evolve by a retreat of the slump headwall during the summer months, making them detectable by comparing digital elevation models over time using the volumetric change as an indicator. Here, we present and assess a method to detect and monitor thaw slumps using time series of elevation models applied on two contrasting study areas in Northern Canada. Our two-step method is tailored to single-pass InSAR observations from the TanDEM-X satellite pair, which have been acquired since 2011. For each acquisition, we derive a digital elevation model and uncertainty estimates. In the first step, we difference digital elevation models and detect the significant elevation changes using a blob-detection algorithm. In the second step, we classify the detections into those due to thaw slumps and other causes using a simple thresholding method (accuracy: 78%), a random forest classifier (87%), and a support vector machine (86%). When our method is applied to other areas, the classifiers should be trained with data from part of the study area or with data obtained from similar areas in terms of topography, vegetation, and thaw slump characteristics to achieve the best performance. The obtained locations of thaw slumps can be used as a starting point to extract important slump properties, such as the headwall height and the volumetric change, which are currently not available on regional scales.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/139401/
Document Type:Article
Title:Mapping Retrogressive Thaw Slumps Using Single-Pass TanDEM-X Observations
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Date:8 June 2020
Journal or Publication Title:IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 3263-3280
Publisher:IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Series Name:IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Keywords:Satellites, Vegetation mapping, Digital elevation models, Ice, Remote sensing, Synthetic aperture radar
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Security-relevant Earth Observation
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Microwaves and Radar Institute > Radar Concepts
Deposited By: Radzuweit, Sibylle
Deposited On:14 Dec 2020 10:03
Last Modified:23 Jul 2022 13:45

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