SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (10): 1848-1856.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2022.10.017

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Variation of Active Layer Thickness of Permafrost in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Based on MODIS Temperature Product

Gong Tingting1,2,3(), Gao Bing4(), Ji Zichen4, Cao Huiyu4, Zhang Yunling1,2,3   

  1. 1. China Highway Engineering Consultants Corporation, Beijing 100097, China
    2. Research and Development Center of Transport Industry of Spatial Information Application and Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Technology, Beijing 100097, China
    3. China Highway Engineering Consultanting Corporation Data Co., Ltd., Beijing 100097, China
    4. School of Water Resources and Environment, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2021-08-12 Revised:2022-01-01 Online:2022-10-30 Published:2022-10-20
  • Contact: Gao Bing;
  • Supported by:
    PRC Application Demonstration System of High Resolution Remote Sensing and Transportation(07-Y30B03-9001-19/21)


The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is the major region covered by permafrost in the middle and low latitudes of the world. The change in permafrost has a significant impact on the hydrological processes and ecological environment on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. In this study, the distribution of frozen soil and active layer thickness (ALT) of permafrost are simulated using the temperature at the top of permafrost (TTOP) model and the Stefan formula, which based on the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature, and the results are compared with the ground observations. The results show that the estimated spatial distribution of permafrost is close to the map of permafrost proposed in previous studies. The ALT of permafrost estimated by MODIS land surface temperature data using Stefan formula has certain accuracies. However, there are some differences between the estimated ALT and observations in the region near the Qinghai-Tibet Highway possibly due to the human activities. The area of permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is estimated to be about 1.01× 106 km2 in the period from 2003 to 2019; the regional averaged ALT on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is 1.79 m, and the change rate of ALT on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is estimated to be 3.67 cm/10a. The changes in the ALT show differences among different vegetation types. The change rate in meadow area is significantly higher than that in grassland area. The change rate also varies along different elevation intervals. From 4 100 m to 5 700 m, the change rate of ALT first increases and then decreases, and the change rate of ALT shows the largest value in the 5 100-5 300 m elevation intervals. The simulated frozen soil distribution and ALT in this study can provide valuable data support for the study of permafrost in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and may deepen our understanding of the characteristics and changes in permafrost in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Key words: Tibetan Plateau, permafrost, active layer thickness, MODIS data, Stefan formula

CLC Number: 

  • P642.14