About this Research Topic
Global warming has induced widespread permafrost degradation in both high latitude and altitudinal regions. Consequences of permafrost decline include deeper soil active layers, ground subsidence and mass wasting, changes in lakes and wetlands, and damage to roads and other human infrastructure. Sparse in situ observations in these remote regions greatly limit capabilities for mapping permafrost vulnerability and characterizing system-level changes associated with permafrost degradation at regional scale. Remote sensing can provide information on environmental conditions closely related to underlying permafrost properties, and critical constraints on assessing regional permafrost vulnerability. With a wide range of satellite and airborne observations available from existing and upcoming missions, remote sensing data are increasingly becoming an essential element of regional permafrost studies.
The focus of this article collection is to explore the utility of new remote sensing technologies in regional applications that characterize permafrost vulnerability and the linkages between frozen ground, terrestrial ecology and hydrology in both high latitude and altitudinal regions. We are particularly interested in studies developing new data-fusion approaches or data-driven models that can integrate multi-sensor and multi-scale remote sensing to provide critical information on regional surface and soil properties closely related to permafrost vulnerability. These properties include, but are not limited to vegetation structure, soil freeze/thaw state, soil moisture, soil organic carbon content etc. Current satellite remote sensing systems are generally unable to provide information on deeper (>~ 10 cm) soils and thus cannot provide direct measurements on regional permafrost distribution; therefore, we also welcome studies combining remote sensing data with machine-learning and physical process models to obtain information on deeper soil dynamics and permafrost state. Strong spatial heterogeneity in permafrost affected landscapes is a challenge for regional assessments relying on sparse in-situ or local-scale observations. Studies that develop new “upscaling” methods that can link plot-scale observations to regional-scale (e.g., pan-arctic) assessments and help represent finer scale permafrost processes in global climate models are also encouraged.
This article collection welcomes diverse article types, including Original Research, Reviews, and Perspective Papers. We will accept contributions related to the following topics:
- New data-fusion approaches to integrate multi-sensor and multi-scale remote sensing data such as Radar and Lidar, active and passive sensors, and airborne and satellite data for better characterizing land surface properties related to permafrost vulnerability.
- New data-driven models or data-model integration approaches that can effectively use diverse datasets including satellite/airborne remote sensing, in situ measurements and other geospatial data to map regional permafrost distribution and changes; studies that can better characterize regional soil freeze/thaw state and soil moisture changes at high spatial and temporal resolution in the northern high latitudes or other
- New methods to integrate local-scale observations and mechanistic models to infer permafrost variability and help interpret spatially explicit data; new upscaling studies combining diverse datasets that sample different properties at different scales and provide a holistic approach for assessing or evaluating regional permafrost vulnerability.
- Global and regional synthesis studies that demonstrate observational needs, to ensure long-term permafrost changes at regional scales are being adequately quantified, and assess socioenvironmental implications of changing permafrost-landscape conditions.
Keywords: Permafrost vulnerability, Soil Moisture, Remote Sensing, Data Fusion, Spatial Upscaling
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.