Recent developments in space-based surveying methods of Earth’s
topography, including the differential synthetic aperture radar
interferometry (DInSAR), increased the availability of options for
monitoring of land subsidence. However, DInSAR methods require expert
knowledge, specialized software, and are time-consuming. Here, we
demonstrate that a land subsidence signal in the difference of freely
available global digital elevation models (DEMs), e.g., SRTM and
TanDEM-X, is identifiable using a simple statistical method. This
finding opens up a venue to develop a dedicated computer application to
identify land subsidence or uplift of the order > 20 mm yr.
Such an application would allow for the monitoring of the impacts of
underground mining, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activities, and
similar effects on the Earth’s topography. This software will provide a
useful and cost-effective approach to scan the global DEMs for the
benefit of many land planning and management agencies around the world.