Annual dynamics of rapid permafrost disturbances from Landsat and Sentinel-2, 2000-2019, Northeast Siberia (RU)

Runge, Alexandra; Nitze, Ingmar; Grosse, Guido

Permafrost is warming globally which leads to widespread permafrost thaw. Particularly ice-rich permafrost is vulnerable to rapid thaw and erosion, impacting whole landscapes and ecosystems. Abrupt permafrost disturbances, such as retrogressive thaw slumps (RTS), expand by several meters each year and lead to an increased soil organic carbon release.
We applied the disturbance detection algorithm LandTrendr for automated large-scale RTS mapping and high temporal thaw dynamic assessment to Northeast Siberia (8.1 × 10⁶km²). We adapted and parametrised the temporal segmentation algorithm for abrupt disturbance detection to incorporate Landsat+Sentinel-2 mosaics, conducted spectral filtering, spatial masking and filtering, and a binary machine-learning object classification of the disturbance output to separate between RTS and false positives (F1 score: 0.61). Ground truth data for calibration and validation of the workflow was collected from 9 known RTS cluster sites using very high-resolution RapidEye and PlanetScope imagery.
The data set presents the results of the first automated detection and assessment of RTS and their temporal dynamics at large-scale for 2001–2019. We identified 50,895 RTS and a steady increase in RTS-affected area from 2001 to 2019 across Northeast Siberia, with a more abrupt increase from 2016 onward. Overall the RTS-affected area increased by 331% compared to 2000 (2000: 20,158 ha, 2001-2019: 66,699 ha). Contrary to this, focus sites show spatio-temporal variability in their annual RTS dynamics, with alternating periods of increased and decreased RTS development, indicating a close relationship to thaw drivers. The detected increase in RTS dynamics suggests advancing permafrost thaw and underlines the importance of assessing abrupt permafrost disturbances with high spatial and temporal resolution at large-scales. This consistenly obtained disturbance product will help to parametrise regional and global climate change models.


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Runge, Alexandra

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Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Identifier DOI:10.1594/PANGAEA.941479
Project(s) KoPF Carbon in Permafrost, ESA CCI Permafrost, ESA-DUE GlobPermafrost
Institute AWI Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
Publication Date 2022-02-25
Version 1.0
Product annual RTS dynamics dataset
Sensor Landsat, Sentinel-2, LandTrendr
  1. RTS affected areas NE Siberia Shapefile
  2. RTS affected areas NE Siberia tab-delimited text
Variables [Units]
  1. Ord No: Ordinal Number
  2. ID:Identification
  3. Description: Description Geometry (Point)
  4. Longitude: Geocode [dd]
  5. Latitude: Geocode [dd]
  6. Coverage (first year): time coverage
  7. Coverage (last year): time coverage
  8. Years: Number of years (activity duration) [a]
  9. No pix: Number of pixels of area [#]
  10. Area: area in hectare [ha]
  11. RTS-affected area: Permafrost area, retrogressive thaw slump affected (for each year respectively from 2000 to 2019) [ha]
Region Siberia
Spatial Reference EPSG:4326 WGS 84
Spatial Resolution
Spatial Coverage Latitude 59.99 to 77.22, Longitude 78.97 to -170.32
Temporal Coverage 2000-2019
Temporal Resolution yearly
Format Shapefile, Tab-delimited text
Is Supplement To

Runge, Alexandra; Nitze, Ingmar; Grosse, Guido (2022): Remote sensing annual dynamics of rapid permafrost thaw disturbances with LandTrendr. Remote Sensing of Environment, 268, 112752,

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