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Post-wildfire surface deformation near Batagay, Eastern Siberia, detected by L-band and C-band InSAR
  • Kazuki Yanagiya,
  • Masato Furuya
Kazuki Yanagiya
Hokkaido University, Hokkaido University

Corresponding Author:k.yanagiya@frontier.hokudai.ac.jp

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Masato Furuya
Hokkaido University, Hokkaido University
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Thawing of ice-rich permafrost and subsequent ground subsidence can form characteristic landforms, and the resulting topography they create are collectively called “thermokarst”. The impact of wildfire on thermokarst development remains uncertain. Here we report on the post-wildfire ground deformation associated with the 2014 wildfire near Batagay, Eastern Siberia. We used Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) to generate both long-term (1-4 years) and short-term (sub-seasonal to seasonal) deformation maps. Based on two independent satellite-based microwave sensors, we could validate the dominance of vertical displacements and their heterogeneous distributions without relying on in-situ data. The inferred time-series based on L-band ALOS2 InSAR data indicated that the cumulative subsidence at the area of greatest magnitude was greater than 30 cm from October 2015 to June 2019, and that the rate of subsidence slowed in 2018. The burn severity was rather homogeneous, but the cumulative subsidence magnitude was larger on the east-facing slopes where the gullies were also predominantly developed. The correlation suggests that the active layer on the east-facing slopes might have been thinner before the fire. Meanwhile, C-band Sentinel-1 InSAR data with higher temporal resolution showed that the temporal evolution included episodic changes in terms of deformation rate. Moreover, we could unambiguously detect frost heave signals that were enhanced within the burned area during the early freezing season but were absent in the mid-winter. We could reasonably interpret the frost heave signals within a framework of premelting theory instead of assuming a simple freezing and subsequent volume expansion of pre-existing pore water.
Jul 2020Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface volume 125 issue 7. 10.1029/2019JF005473