Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-292
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
05 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to assess recent surface elevation change of Storbreen in Norway
Walter Immerzeel1, Philip Kraaijenbrink1, and Liss Andreassen2 1Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography, PO Box 80115, Utrecht, the Netherlands
2Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, PO Box 5091, Majorstuen, 0301 Oslo, Norway
Abstract. Routinely and accurate monitoring of the outlines and surface mass balance of glaciers is essential. In this study an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was used in September 2015 on a mountain glacier (Storbreen) in Norway to map the glacier outline, snow line and to derive a digital elevation model (DEM) of the glacier surface. The generated DEM has a relatively high accuracy with maximum horizontal RMSE of 0.36 m vertical RMSE of 0.44 m and the Structure for Motion algorithm also proved to be suitable under low contrast, high saturation fully snow covered conditions. A well distributed set of markers, measured by GPS, was required to generate a high quality DEM under the yielding conditions. The final UAV DEM was compared to a laser based DEM of 2009 and the annual geodetic mass balance between 2015 and 2009 was estimated to be between −0.71 ± 0.1 m w.e. and −0.75 m ± 0.1 w.e., which is in good agreement with the glaciological mass balance of −0.80 m ± 0.18 w.e. a−1. An analysis of the glacier outlines reveal that the glacier has lost 1.2 % of its surface area between 2009 and 2015. These findings confirm the strong mass loss and retreat of continental glaciers in southern Norway.

Citation: Immerzeel, W., Kraaijenbrink, P., and Andreassen, L.: Use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to assess recent surface elevation change of Storbreen in Norway, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-292, 2017.
Walter Immerzeel et al.
Walter Immerzeel et al.
Walter Immerzeel et al.

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Short summary
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have become increasingly popular in environmental monitoring. In this study we use a UAV to derive a very detailed digital elevation model (DEM) of Storbreen in Norway. We compare our results with a past DEM to derive the mass balance of this glacier. Our results confirm strong mass loss and retreat of continental glaciers in southern Norway and we conclude that UAVs are effective tools in stuyding mountain glaciers at a high level of detail.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have become increasingly popular in environmental monitoring. In...
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