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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 02 Sep 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

GPS Interferometric Reflectometry measurements of ground surface elevation changes in permafrost areas in northern Canada

Jiahua Zhang1, Lin Liu1, and Yufeng Hu2 Jiahua Zhang et al.
  • 1Earth System Science Programme, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 999077, China
  • 2College of GeologyEngineering and Geomatics, Chang’an University, Xian, 710000, China

Abstract. Global Positioning System Interferometric Reflectometry (GPS-IR) is a relatively new technique which uses reflected GPS signals to measure surface elevation changes to study frozen ground dynamics. At present, more than 200 GPS stations are in continuous operation in the Northern Hemisphere permafrost areas. They were originally designed and maintained for tectonic and ionospheric studies. However, only one site in Barrow, Alaska has so far been used to study permafrost by GPS-IR. Moreover, GPS-IR has high requirements on ground surface condition, which needs to be open, flat, and homogeneous. In this study, we screen 3 major GPS networks in Canada and identify 12 out of 38 stations located in permafrost areas as useful ones where reliable reflectometry measurements can be obtained. We narrow our focus to 5 Canadian Active Control System stations and obtain their daily GPS-IR estimated surface elevation changes. We find that the ground surface subsided in Alert and Resolute Bay respectively by 0.79 ± 0.04 cm yr−1 (2012–2017) and 0.70 ± 0.02 cm yr−1 (2003–2014), but uplifted in Iqaluit by 0.35 ± 0.04 cm yr−1 (2010–2017). At the other two sites respectively in Repulse Bay and Baker Lake, the trends are not statistically significant. The linear trends of deformation were negatively correlated with those of the thaw indices in Alert, Resolute Bay, and Iqaluit. Furthermore, in Resolute Bay, we also find that the end-of-thaw elevations during 2003–2012 were highly negatively correlated with the square root of thaw indices. This study highlights multiple useful GPS stations in northern Canada, where multi-year, continuous, and daily GPS-IR estimated surface deformation can be obtained and used to study frozen ground dynamics at various temporal scales and across a broad region.

Jiahua Zhang et al.
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Jiahua Zhang et al.
Data sets

Reflector heights measured by GPS-IR at Alert, Resolute Bay, Repulse Bay, Baker Lake, and Iqaluit in northern Canada. J. Zhang, L. Liu, and Y. Hu

Jiahua Zhang et al.
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Short summary
Ground surface in permafrost areas undergoes uplift/subside seasonally due to freezing/thawing active layer. Surface elevation change serves as an indicator of frozen ground dynamics. In this study, we identify 12 GPS stations across the Canadian Arctic, which are useful for measuring elevation changes by using reflected GPS signals. The measurements span from several years to over a decade and at daily intervals. They help to reveal frozen ground dynamics at various temporal and spatial scales.
Ground surface in permafrost areas undergoes uplift/subside seasonally due to freezing/thawing...