Jennifer Watts

Member since: Feb 06, 2013, The University of Montana

Satellite Microwave remote sensing of contrasting surface water inundation changes within the Arctic-Boreal Region

Shared by Jennifer Watts on Feb 06, 2013


Author(s) :
Jennifer Watts, John Kimball, Lucas Jones, Ronny Schroeder, Kyle McDonald

Surface water inundation in the Arctic-Boreal region is dynamic and strongly influences land-atmosphere water, energy and carbon (CO2, CH4) fluxes, and potential feedbacks to climate change. Here we report on recent (2003-2010) surface inundation patterns across the Arctic-Boreal region (≥ 50ºN) and within major permafrost (PF) zones detected using satellite passive microwave remote sensing retrievals of daily fractional open water (Fw) cover from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E). The AMSR-E Fw (25-km resolution) maps reflect strong microwave sensitivity to sub-grid scale open water variability and compare favorably (0.71 < R2 < 0.84) with alternative, static Fw maps derived from finer scale (30-m to 250-m resolution) Landsat, MODIS and SRTM radar (MOD44W) data. The AMSR-E retrievals show dynamic seasonal and annual variability in surface inundation that is unresolved in the static Fw maps. The AMSR-E Fw record also corresponds strongly (0.71 < R < 0.87) with regional wet/dry cycles inferred from basin discharge records. An AMSR-E algorithm sensitivity analysis shows a conservative estimate of Fw retrieval uncertainty (RMSE) within ±4.1% for effective resolution of regional inundation patterns and seasonal to annual variability. A regional trend analysis of the 8-year AMSR-E record shows no significant Arctic-Boreal wide Fw trend for the period, and instead reveals contrasting inundation changes within different PF zones. Widespread Fw wetting is detected within continuous (92% of grid cells with significant trend; p < 0.1) and discontinuous (82%) PF zones, while sporadic/isolated PF areas show widespread (71%) Fw drying trends. These results are consistent with previous studies showing evidence of contrasting regional inundation patterns linked to PF degradation and associated changes to surface hydrology under recent climate warming.

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