Decadal changes of surface elevation over permafrost area estimated using reflected GPS signals

Liu, Lin; Larson, Kristine M.

Conventional benchmark-based survey and Global Positioning System (GPS) have been used to measure surface elevation changes over permafrost areas, usually once or a few times a year. Here we use reflected GPS signals to measure temporal changes of ground surface elevation due to dynamics of the active layer and near-surface permafrost. Applying the GPS interferometric reflectometry technique to the multipath signal-to-noise ratio data collected by a continuously operating GPS receiver mounted deep in permafrost in Barrow, Alaska, we can retrieve the vertical distance between the antenna and reflecting surface. Using this unique kind of observables, we obtain daily changes of surface elevation during July and August from 2004 to 2015. Our results show distinct temporal variations at three timescales: regular thaw settlement within each summer, strong interannual variability that is characterized by a sub-decadal subsidence trend followed by a brief uplift trend, and a secular subsidence trend of 0.26 inline-formula± 0.02 cm yearinline-formula−1 during 2004 and 2015. This method provides a new way to fully utilize data from continuously operating GPS sites in cold regions for studying dynamics of the frozen ground consistently and sustainably over a long time.

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Liu, Lin / Larson, Kristine M.: Decadal changes of surface elevation over permafrost area estimated using reflected GPS signals. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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