Operational-scale geoai for pan-arctic permafrost feature detection from high-resolution satellite imagery

Mahendara Udawalpola, Amit Hasan, Anna K. Liljedahl, Aiman Soliman, Chandi Witharana

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Regional extent and spatiotemporal dynamics of Arctic permafrost disturbances remain poorly quantified. High spatial resolution commercial satellite imagery enables transformational opportunities to observe, map, and document the micro-topographic transitions occurring in Arctic polygonal tundra at multiple spatial and temporal frequencies. The entire Arctic has been imaged at 0.5 m or finer resolution by commercial satellite sensors. The imagery is still largely underutilized, and value-added Arctic science products are rare. Knowledge discovery through artificial intelligence (AI), big imagery, high performance computing (HPC) resources is just starting to be realized in Arctic science. Large-scale deployment of petabyte-scale imagery resources requires sophisticated computational approaches to automated image interpretation coupled with efficient use of HPC resources. In addition to semantic complexities, multitude factors that are inherent to sub-meter resolution satellite imagery, such as file size, dimensions, spectral channels, overlaps, spatial references, and imaging conditions challenge the direct translation of AI-based approaches from computer vision applications. Memory limitations of Graphical Processing Units necessitates the partitioning of an input satellite imagery into manageable sub-arrays, followed by parallel predictions and post-processing to reconstruct the results corresponding to input image dimensions and spatial reference. We have developed a novel high performance image analysis framework – Mapping application for Arctic Permafrost Land Environment (MAPLE) that enables the integration of operational-scale GeoAI capabilities into Arctic science applications. We have designed the MAPLE workflow to become interoperable across HPC architectures while utilizing the optimal use of computing resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-180
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives
Issue numberM-3
StatePublished - 2021
EventAmerican Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, ASPRS 2021 Annual Conference - Virtual, Online
Duration: Mar 29 2021Apr 2 2021


  • Arctic
  • Deep learning
  • High Performance Computing
  • Ice-wedge polygons
  • Permafrost
  • Satellite imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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