Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-141
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-141
15 Mar 2024
 | 15 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Multitemporal UAV LiDAR detects seasonal heave and subsidence on palsas

Cas Renette, Mats Olvmo, Sofia Thorsson, Björn Holmer, and Heather Reese

Abstract. In the context of the accelerating impacts of climate change on permafrost landscapes, we use Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle (UAV) LiDAR technology to investigate seasonal terrain changes in palsas – mounds of frozen peat – since other remote sensing methods have struggled to capture the full dynamics of these landforms. We investigated two palsas (4–5 m in height) in Sweden's largest palsa mire complex, where we performed five field campaigns between September 2022 and September 2023 to track intra-annual frost heave and thaw subsidence. Our approach allowed us to create digital terrain models (DTMs) from high density point clouds (>1,000 points/m²) and analyze elevation changes over time. We found that both palsas heaved on average 0.15 m (and up to 0.30 m) from September to April and subsided back to their height from the previous year, or slightly below, over the course of the following summer. At one of the palsas, we observed notable lateral degradation over the study period in a 300 m2 area, with 0.5–2.0 m height loss, likely initiated during the preceding warm and wet summer months. Part of this degradation occurred between September 2022 and April 2023, suggesting that the degradation of these palsas is not limited to the summer months. Our study shows the substantial value of using UAV LiDAR for understanding how permafrost areas are changing. It helps in tracking the ongoing effects of climate change and highlights palsa dynamics that would not be captured by annual measurements alone.

Cas Renette, Mats Olvmo, Sofia Thorsson, Björn Holmer, and Heather Reese

Status: open (until 17 May 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Cas Renette, Mats Olvmo, Sofia Thorsson, Björn Holmer, and Heather Reese

Data sets

Dataset for: 'Multitemporal UAV LiDAR detects seasonal heave and subsidence on palsas' (Renette et al., 2024, submitted to The Cryosphere) V1.0 Cas Renette https://zenodo.org/records/10497094

Cas Renette, Mats Olvmo, Sofia Thorsson, Björn Holmer, and Heather Reese

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Short summary
We used a drone to monitor seasonal changes in the height of subarctic permafrost mounds (palsas). With five drone flights in one year, we found a seasonal fluctuation of ca. 15 cm as result of freeze/thaw cycles. On one mound, a large area sank down between each flight as a result of permafrost thaw. The approach of using repeated high-resolution scans from such drone is unique for such environments and highlights its effectiveness in capturing the subtle dynamics of permafrost landscapes.