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  1. null (Ed.)
    Very high spatial resolution commercial satellite imagery can inform observation, mapping, and documentation of micro-topographic transitions across large tundra regions. The bridging of fine-scale field studies with pan-Arctic system assessments has until now been constrained by a lack of overlap in spatial resolution and geographical coverage. This likely introduced biases in climate impacts on, and feedback from the Arctic region to the global climate system. The central objective of this exploratory study is to develop an object-based image analysis workflow to automatically extract ice-wedge polygon troughs from very high spatial resolution commercial satellite imagery. We employed a systematic experiment to understand the degree of interoperability of knowledge-based workflows across distinct tundra vegetation units—sedge tundra and tussock tundra—focusing on the same semantic class. In our multi-scale trough modelling workflow, we coupled mathematical morphological filtering with a segmentation process to enhance the quality of image object candidates and classification accuracies. Employment of the master ruleset on sedge tundra reported classification accuracies of correctness of 0.99, completeness of 0.87, and F1 score of 0.92. When the master ruleset was applied to tussock tundra without any adaptations, classification accuracies remained promising while reporting correctness of 0.87, completeness of 0.77, and an F1 score of 0.81. Overall, results suggest that the object-based image analysis-based trough modelling workflow exhibits substantial interoperability across the terrain while producing promising classification accuracies. From an Arctic earth science perspective, the mapped troughs combined with the ArcticDEM can allow hydrological assessments of lateral connectivity of the rapidly changing Arctic tundra landscape, and repeated mapping can allow us to track fine-scale changes across large regions and that has potentially major implications on larger riverine systems. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
  3. Deep learning (DL) convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have been rapidly adapted in very high spatial resolution (VHSR) satellite image analysis. DLCNN-based computer visions (CV) applications primarily aim for everyday object detection from standard red, green, blue (RGB) imagery, while earth science remote sensing applications focus on geo object detection and classification from multispectral (MS) imagery. MS imagery includes RGB and narrow spectral channels from near- and/or middle-infrared regions of reflectance spectra. The central objective of this exploratory study is to understand to what degree MS band statistics govern DLCNN model predictions. We scaffold our analysis on a case study that uses Arctic tundra permafrost landform features called ice-wedge polygons (IWPs) as candidate geo objects. We choose Mask RCNN as the DLCNN architecture to detect IWPs from eight-band Worldview-02 VHSR satellite imagery. A systematic experiment was designed to understand the impact on choosing the optimal three-band combination in model prediction. We tasked five cohorts of three-band combinations coupled with statistical measures to gauge the spectral variability of input MS bands. The candidate scenes produced high model detection accuracies for the F1 score, ranging between 0.89 to 0.95, for two different band combinations (coastal blue, blue, green (1,2,3) and green, yellow, red (3,4,5)). The mapping workflow discerned the IWPs by exhibiting low random and systematic error in the order of 0.17–0.19 and 0.20–0.21, respectively, for band combinations (1,2,3). Results suggest that the prediction accuracy of the Mask-RCNN model is significantly influenced by the input MS bands. Overall, our findings accentuate the importance of considering the image statistics of input MS bands and careful selection of optimal bands for DLCNN predictions when DLCNN architectures are restricted to three spectral channels. 
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  4. State-of-the-art deep learning technology has been successfully applied to relatively small selected areas of very high spatial resolution (0.15 and 0.25 m) optical aerial imagery acquired by a fixed-wing aircraft to automatically characterize ice-wedge polygons (IWPs) in the Arctic tundra. However, any mapping of IWPs at regional to continental scales requires images acquired on different sensor platforms (particularly satellite) and a refined understanding of the performance stability of the method across sensor platforms through reliable evaluation assessments. In this study, we examined the transferability of a deep learning Mask Region-Based Convolutional Neural Network (R-CNN) model for mapping IWPs in satellite remote sensing imagery (~0.5 m) covering 272 km2 and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (0.02 m) imagery covering 0.32 km2. Multi-spectral images were obtained from the WorldView-2 satellite sensor and pan-sharpened to ~0.5 m, and a 20 mp CMOS sensor camera onboard a UAV, respectively. The training dataset included 25,489 and 6022 manually delineated IWPs from satellite and fixed-wing aircraft aerial imagery near the Arctic Coastal Plain, northern Alaska. Quantitative assessments showed that individual IWPs were correctly detected at up to 72% and 70%, and delineated at up to 73% and 68% F1 score accuracy levels for satellite and UAV images, respectively. Expert-based qualitative assessments showed that IWPs were correctly detected at good (40–60%) and excellent (80–100%) accuracy levels for satellite and UAV images, respectively, and delineated at excellent (80–100%) level for both images. We found that (1) regardless of spatial resolution and spectral bands, the deep learning Mask R-CNN model effectively mapped IWPs in both remote sensing satellite and UAV images; (2) the model achieved a better accuracy in detection with finer image resolution, such as UAV imagery, yet a better accuracy in delineation with coarser image resolution, such as satellite imagery; (3) increasing the number of training data with different resolutions between the training and actual application imagery does not necessarily result in better performance of the Mask R-CNN in IWPs mapping; (4) and overall, the model underestimates the total number of IWPs particularly in terms of disjoint/incomplete IWPs. 
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  5. Abstract

    This study applies an indicators framework to investigate climate drivers of tundra vegetation trends and variability over the 1982–2019 period. Previously known indicators relevant for tundra productivity (summer warmth index (SWI), coastal spring sea-ice (SI) area, coastal summer open-water (OW)) and three additional indicators (continentality, summer precipitation, and the Arctic Dipole (AD): second mode of sea level pressure variability) are analyzed with maximum annual Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (MaxNDVI) and the sum of summer bi-weekly (time-integrated) NDVI (TI-NDVI) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer time-series. Climatological mean, trends, and correlations between variables are presented. Changes in SI continue to drive variations in the other indicators. As spring SI has decreased, summer OW, summer warmth, MaxNDVI, and TI-NDVI have increased. However, the initial very strong upward trends in previous studies for MaxNDVI and TI-NDVI are weakening and becoming spatially and temporally more variable as the ice retreats from the coastal areas. TI-NDVI has declined over the last decade particularly over High Arctic regions and southwest Alaska. The continentality index (CI) (maximum minus minimum monthly temperatures) is decreasing across the tundra, more so over North America than Eurasia. The relationship has weakened between SI and SWI and TI-NDVI, as the maritime influence of OW has increased along with total precipitation. The winter AD is correlated in Eurasia with spring SI, summer OW, MaxNDVI, TI-NDVI, the CI and total summer precipitation. This winter connection to tundra emphasizes the role of SI in driving the summer indicators. The winter (DJF) AD drives SI variations which in turn shape summer OW, the atmospheric SWI and NDVI anomalies. The winter and spring indicators represent potential predictors of tundra vegetation productivity a season or two in advance of the growing season.

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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  8. Abstract

    Significant progress in permafrost carbon science made over the past decades include the identification of vast permafrost carbon stocks, the development of new pan‐Arctic permafrost maps, an increase in terrestrial measurement sites for CO2and methane fluxes, and important factors affecting carbon cycling, including vegetation changes, periods of soil freezing and thawing, wildfire, and other disturbance events. Process‐based modeling studies now include key elements of permafrost carbon cycling and advances in statistical modeling and inverse modeling enhance understanding of permafrost region C budgets. By combining existing data syntheses and model outputs, the permafrost region is likely a wetland methane source and small terrestrial ecosystem CO2sink with lower net CO2uptake toward higher latitudes, excluding wildfire emissions. For 2002–2014, the strongest CO2sink was located in western Canada (median: −52 g C m−2 y−1) and smallest sinks in Alaska, Canadian tundra, and Siberian tundra (medians: −5 to −9 g C m−2 y−1). Eurasian regions had the largest median wetland methane fluxes (16–18 g CH4m−2 y−1). Quantifying the regional scale carbon balance remains challenging because of high spatial and temporal variability and relatively low density of observations. More accurate permafrost region carbon fluxes require: (a) the development of better maps characterizing wetlands and dynamics of vegetation and disturbances, including abrupt permafrost thaw; (b) the establishment of new year‐round CO2and methane flux sites in underrepresented areas; and (c) improved models that better represent important permafrost carbon cycle dynamics, including non‐growing season emissions and disturbance effects.

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