The service covers the Arctic, Antarctic as well as mountain permafrost regions.

Permafrost and frozen grounds are key elements of the terrestrial Cryosphere that will be strongly affected by a warming climate. With widespread permafrost degradation likely to occur in this century, remote sensing of permafrost is seeking to unveil the processes and causal connections governing this development, from the monitoring of variables related to the permafrost state to the mapping of the impacts of degradation and potential natural hazards on the ground.

Permafrost cannot be directly detected from space, but many surface features of permafrost terrains and typical periglacial landforms are observable with a variety of EO sensors ranging from very high to medium resolution in various wavelengths. Prototype cases of the project cover different aspects of permafrost by integrating in situ measurements of subsurface permafrost properties (active layer depth, active layer and permafrost temperatures, organic layer thickness, liquid water content in the active layer and permafrost), surface properties (vegetation cover, snow depth) and modelling to provide a better understanding of permafrost today. The techniques extend point source process and permafrost monitoring to a broader spatial domain, to support permafrost distribution modelling and mapping techniques implemented in a GIS framework and complement active layer and thermal observing networks.