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      Extrapolating active layer thickness measurements across Arctic polygonal terrain using LiDAR and NDVI data sets


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          Landscape attributes that vary with microtopography, such as active layer thickness ( ALT), are labor intensive and difficult to document effectively through in situ methods at kilometer spatial extents, thus rendering remotely sensed methods desirable. Spatially explicit estimates of ALT can provide critically needed data for parameterization, initialization, and evaluation of Arctic terrestrial models. In this work, we demonstrate a new approach using high-resolution remotely sensed data for estimating centimeter-scale ALT in a 5 km 2 area of ice-wedge polygon terrain in Barrow, Alaska. We use a simple regression-based, machine learning data-fusion algorithm that uses topographic and spectral metrics derived from multisensor data (LiDAR and WorldView-2) to estimate ALT (2 m spatial resolution) across the study area. Comparison of the ALT estimates with ground-based measurements, indicates the accuracy (r 2 = 0.76, RMSE ±4.4 cm) of the approach. While it is generally accepted that broad climatic variability associated with increasing air temperature will govern the regional averages of ALT, consistent with prior studies, our findings using high-resolution LiDAR and WorldView-2 data, show that smaller-scale variability in ALT is controlled by local eco-hydro-geomorphic factors. This work demonstrates a path forward for mapping ALT at high spatial resolution and across sufficiently large regions for improved understanding and predictions of coupled dynamics among permafrost, hydrology, and land-surface processes from readily available remote sensing data.

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                Author and article information

                Water Resour Res
                Water Resour Res
                Water Resources Research
                BlackWell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                August 2014
                05 August 2014
                : 50
                : 8
                : 6339-6357
                [1 ]Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
                [2 ]Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, California, USA
                [3 ]Water and Environmental Research Center and International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
                [4 ]Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, Texas, USA
                [5 ]Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: C. Gangodagamage, chhandana@ 123456gmail.com
                © 2014. The Authors.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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