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Deciphering Small-Scale Seasonal Surface Dynamics of Rock Glaciers in the Central European Alps Using DInSAR Time Series

Buchelt, Sebastian and Blöthe, Jan Henrik and Kuenzer, Claudia and Schmitt, Andreas and Ullmann, Tobias and Philipp, Marius and Kneisel, Christof (2023) Deciphering Small-Scale Seasonal Surface Dynamics of Rock Glaciers in the Central European Alps Using DInSAR Time Series. Remote Sensing, 15 (12), p. 2982. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). doi: 10.3390/rs15122982. ISSN 2072-4292.

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Official URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/rs15122982


The Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Permafrost is currently undergoing strong changes due to rising ground and air temperatures. Surface movement, forming characteristic landforms such as rock glaciers, is one key indicator for mountain permafrost. Monitoring this movement can indicate ongoing changes in permafrost; therefore, rock glacier velocity (RGV) has recently been added as an ECV product. Despite the increased understanding of rock glacier dynamics in recent years, most observations are either limited in terms of the spatial coverage or temporal resolution. According to recent studies, Sentinel-1 (C-band) Differential SAR Interferometry (DInSAR) has potential for monitoring RGVs at high spatial and temporal resolutions. However, the suitability of DInSAR for the detection of heterogeneous small-scale spatial patterns of rock glacier velocities was never at the center of these studies. We address this shortcoming by generating and analyzing Sentinel-1 DInSAR time series over five years to detect small-scale displacement patterns of five high alpine permafrost environments located in the Central European Alps on a weekly basis at a range of a few millimeters. Our approach is based on a semi-automated procedure using open-source programs (SNAP, pyrate) and provides East-West displacement and elevation change with a ground sampling distance of 5 m. Comparison with annual movement derived from orthophotos and unpiloted aerial vehicle (UAV) data shows that DInSAR covers about one third of the total movement, which represents the proportion of the year suited for DInSAR, and shows good spatial agreement (Pearson R: 0.42-0.74, RMSE: 4.7-11.6 cm/a) except for areas with phase unwrapping errors. Moreover, the DInSAR time series unveils spatio-temporal variations and distinct seasonal movement dynamics related to different drivers and processes as well as internal structures. Combining our approach with in situ observations could help to achieve a more holistic understanding of rock glacier dynamics and to assess the future evolution of permafrost under changing climatic conditions.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/195630/
Document Type:Article
Title:Deciphering Small-Scale Seasonal Surface Dynamics of Rock Glaciers in the Central European Alps Using DInSAR Time Series
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Buchelt, SebastianUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0009-0006-9459-3725UNSPECIFIED
Blöthe, Jan HenrikUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-9448-9561UNSPECIFIED
Schmitt, AndreasUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-0232-2666UNSPECIFIED
Ullmann, TobiasUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6626-3052UNSPECIFIED
Philipp, MariusUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5065-0966UNSPECIFIED
Date:7 June 2023
Journal or Publication Title:Remote Sensing
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 2982
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Keywords:Sentinel-1; DInSAR; rock glaciers; seasonal dynamics; periglacial; feature tracking
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 - Remote Sensing and Geo Research
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:German Remote Sensing Data Center > Land Surface Dynamics
Deposited By: Varga, Monica-Marieta
Deposited On:31 Jul 2023 11:33
Last Modified:31 Jul 2023 11:33

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