Permafrost, which is ground that is frozen for two or more years, covers about 24% of the exposed landmass of the Northern Hemisphere — about 23 million km2. It is found at high latitudes and high altitudes, and its thickness ranges from less than 1 m to greater than 1,000 m.

3vG has unparalleled expertise in InSAR monitoring of permafrost environments. Our experience includes InSAR monitoring of over 35 communities and areas across the Canadian North. The technology we’ve developed through these projects is being applied in the Arctic to monitor changes to various infrastructure and land masses caused by shifting permafrost.

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The Arctic is considered a major barometer for climate change, as permafrost stores vast amounts of carbon which, if released could accelerate the effects of global warming. Nowhere on Earth are the changes more dramatic than in the Arctic. Changing permafrost is a reality that Arctic communities have to face. 3vG can help monitor these changes through the following applications:

Community Planning

Improved planning based on suitability maps derived from SAR and elevation data enables our clients to better identify areas suitable for future development. InSAR monitoring reduces risks and the cost of maintaining buildings and infrastructure.

Building Stability

The most effective way to reduce the risk of building and infrastructure damage caused by shifting permafrost is through the use of suitability and stability maps (i.e., improved planning); however, this is not always possible. Through InSAR monitoring of built structures, it is possible to identify movement in specific parts of a building as well as specific areas within a network of buildings across a property. This information can be used to identify problem areas of specific buildings and to evaluate the effectiveness of building construction codes (foundations, materials, building size). If specific parts of a building are identified as moving, mitigation steps can be implemented before the building is considered unsafe.


Resources like Oil & Gas and Mining face additional challenges when exploring or developing new projects in the Arctic. 3vG can support the development of these ventures through the early detection and monitoring of potential geohazards associated with changing permafrost.  

Transportation Infrastructure

InSAR is an effective monitoring and planning tool for airports and roadways in permafrost environments. Through InSAR’s monitoring capabilities, critical areas of concern across large areas can be identified, providing a focus for engineers on the ground.

View Permafrost Case Studies below

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