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Kyrgyzstan is landlocked mountainous nation of around five million people, which borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The total area of high mountainous terrain, alpine meadows and pastures exceeds 70% of the Republic’s territory, whereas the greater part of the Kyrgyz Republic is occupied by the Tien-Shan mountains. Kyrgyzstan is a highly active seismic region and has been shaken by numerous significant earthquakes as a consequence of the ongoing collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. In the result, the mountainous country is faced with a large variety of natural hazards (mainly earthquakes, large landslides and floods) which frequently lead to the occurrence of natural disaster (e.g., 1994: about 1,000 landslides failed and 115 human fatalities; 2008: Nura earthquake M=6.6, 74 human fatalities and 150 injured, 90 glacial lakes endangered for regularly occurring outburst floods). Under these conditions, there is high demand for efficient and spatially differentiated hazard assessment requiring an improved understanding of natural processes with high hazardous potential. Since large areas with often limited accessibility are affected, satellite remote sensing plays an important role in contributing to improved process knowledge in this region (Roessner et al., 2005). In the presented work the potential of advanced remote sensing techniques based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite data is investigated for characterizing spatio-temporal surface changes related to mass movement and earthquakes. Methodological focus has been put on using Differential SAR Interferometry (InSAR) based on data from different satellites for detecting surface displacements as a consequence of slope instabilities and earthquakes in Southern Kyrgyzstan. In the presented work we focus on one study site of high landslide activity in the Osh province and on another study site which has been affected by the recent destructive Nura earthquake in 2008.


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