V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest  
Laboratory of Ecophysiology of Permafrost Systems  

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WP 3a. Analysis of spatiotemporal dynamics of permafrost zone in Central Siberia based on gravitational remote sensing data

The aim of the research: estimate spatiotemporal changes of permafrost zone in Central Siberia based on GRACE gravitational remote sensing data

State of problem

Climate models predict rise of temperature on up to 7-8C by the end of the 21st century in northern hemisphere (ACIA, 2005). Increase of temperature will result in dramatic changes of permafrost zone (Walsh et al., 2005, Anisimov, 2007, Romanovsky et al., 2001, IPCC, 2008). In accordance to some predictions (Anisimov, 2007) thaw depth in northern part of Siberia could increase by more than 50% and less than 30% in southern part to 2050 yr. Permafrost thaw will intensify thermo-karst development. Melting of permafrost will resulted in destruction of oil and gas infrastructure, which mostly located in permafrost zone (Anisimov and Reneva, 2006).

Remote sensing data have to be used in investigations of permafrost because of large territory and very high cost of field works on this area. One of the main problem stated in permafrost science is investigation of water balance and active layer dynamics. One of the promising tools to solve stated problem is GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission. GRACE data were successfully applied in monitoring of water mass changes induced by climate in permafrost area (Chen et al., 2006; Gardner et al., 2011; Jacob et al., 2012; Barletta et al 2013; Muskett and Romanovskii, 2011; Vey et al., 2013).

GRACE mission

GRACE mission (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/ , http://grace.jpl.nasa.gov/) was launched in March 2002. GRACE consists of two identical satellites, which fly at ~220 km from each other at polar orbit on ~500 km altitude. Instruments installed on satellites allow determine location of satellites in space and estimate distance between satellites with high accuracy at ~10 μm. GRACE mission allowed to investigate variations of the Earths gravity field with high precision (fig. 1), and to estimate air and water mass fluxes.

Fig. 1. Illustration of the Earths gravity field anomalies extracted from GRACE data. Prepared by the University of Texas, CSR (Center for Space Research).
Source: ftp://ftp.csr.utexas.edu/pub/grace/Gravity_Images/

Work package members (2014)

  1. Leader: Im Sergei Thekdeyevich, Phd, senior researcher.
  2. Consultant: Kharuk Viatheslav Ivanovich, Doctor of sciences, professor, deputy director of the Institute of Forest Siberian Brunch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
  3. Researcher: Fedotova Elena Viktorovna, PhD, senior researcher.
  4. Researcher: Rakityanskaya Natalia Mikhailovna, PhD student.
  5. Researcher: Korsukova Eugeniya Gennadievna, PhD student.

Foreign partners: Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Jurgen Muller, Dr.-Ing. Olga Gitlein.