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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© 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 11 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 11 Dec 2019

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

InSAR time series analysis of seasonal surface displacement dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau

Eike Reinosch1, Johannes Buckel2, Jie Dong3, Markus Gerke1, Jussi Baade4, and Björn Riedel1 Eike Reinosch et al.
  • 1Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geophysics and extraterrestrial Physics, Technische Universität Braunschweig,Braunschweig, Germany
  • 3School of Remote Sensing and Information Engineering, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
  • 4DepartmentofGeography, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Jena, Germany

Abstract. Climate change and the associated rise in air temperature have affected the Tibetan Plateau to a significantly stronger degree than the global average over the past decades. This has caused deglaciation, permafrost degradation and increased precipitation, heavily changing the water balance of this region. Surface displacement processes are likely to change as the ground continues to warm up and as such it is vital to understand both seasonal and interannual processes dynamics. The Nam Co area is well suited to studying these processes via Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) time series analysis, due to its lack of higher vegetation and relatively thin snow cover. The short revisit time of the Sentinel-1 system further reduces the risk of temporal decorrelation, making it possible to produce surface displacement models with good spatial coverage. We created three different surface displacement models to study freeze-thaw processes, seasonal sliding and linear creep. Most slopes of the area are unstable, with velocities of 8 to 17 mm yr−1, and some landforms reach velocities of up to 18 cm yr−1. The monsoonal climate accelerates those movements during the summer months through high temperatures and heavy rainfall. The fastest moving landforms, some of which have been identified as rock glaciers, do not follow this seasonal pattern of accelerated velocity in summer, instead they follow a linear sliding pattern. It is unclear if this linearity is connected to the ice content in those landforms. Flat regions at Nam Co are mostly stable on a multiannual scale but some experience subsidence, which could be caused by permafrost degradation. We observe a very clear seasonal freeze-thaw cycle in the valleys, where thawing and subsequent freezing of the active layer cause a vertical oscillation of the ground of up to a few centimeters, especially near streams and other water bodies.

Eike Reinosch et al.

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Eike Reinosch et al.

Data sets

Surface displacement and velocity models at Lake NamCo (Tibetan Plateau) derived from Sentinel-1 data via InSAR time series analysis. E. Reinosch, J. Buckel, J. Dong, M. Gerke, J. Baade, and B. Riedel

Eike Reinosch et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In this research we present the results of our satellite analysis of periglacial landforms of mountainous regions on the Tibetan Plateau. We study seasonal and multiannual surface displacement processes, such as the freezing and thawing of the ground, seasonal sliding on steep slopes and continuous permafrost creep. This study is the first step of our goal to create an inventory of all permafrost related landforms within the Nyaingêntaglha Mountain range.
In this research we present the results of our satellite analysis of periglacial landforms of...