Low-land permafrost areas are subject to intense freeze-thaw cycles and characterized by remarkable surface displacement. We used Sentinel-1 SAR interferometry (InSAR) in order to analyse the summer surface displacement over four spots in the Arctic and Antarctica since 2015. Choosing floodplain or outcrop areas as the reference for the InSAR relative deformation measurements, we found maximum subsidence of about 3 to 10 cm during the thawing season with generally high spatial variability. Sentinel-1 time-series of interferograms with 6–12 day time intervals highlight that subsidence is often occurring rather quickly within roughly one month in early summer. Intercomparison of summer subsidence from Sentinel-1 in 2017 with TerraSAR-X in 2013 over part of the Lena River Delta (Russia) shows a high spatial agreement between both SAR systems. A comparison with in-situ measurements for the summer of 2014 over the Lena River Delta indicates a pronounced downward movement of several centimetres in both cases but does not reveal a spatial correspondence between InSAR and local in-situ measurements. For the reconstruction of longer time-series of deformation, yearly Sentinel-1 interferograms from the end of the summer were considered. However, in order to infer an effective subsidence of the surface through melting of excess ice layers over multi-annual scales with Sentinel-1, a longer observation time period is necessary.
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