Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (5): 1245-1256.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202105015

• Climate Change and Land Surface Processes • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Monitoring glacier surface velocity and ablation using high-resolution UAV imagery

FU Yin1(), LIU Qiao2, LIU Guoxiang1,3, ZHANG Bo1, CAI Jialun1, WANG Xiaowen1,3, ZHANG Rui1,3()   

  1. 1. Faculty of Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu 611756, China
    2. Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China
    3. State-Province Joint Engineering Laboratory of Spatial Information Technology of High-Speed Rail Safety, Chengdu 611756, China
  • Received:2019-12-20 Revised:2020-11-20 Online:2021-05-25 Published:2021-07-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Rui;
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFB0502700);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771402);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871069);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41804009);Technology Research and Development Program of China Railway Corporation(P2018G004);Science and Technology Program of Sichuan Province(2018JY0564)


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been developed to obtain high-precision, high-resolution and three-dimensional (3D) dynamic of glacier surface, which is helpful for revealing the movement and melting of glaciers, so it has become an important technology for glaciology researches. Because the high-resolution image data can be used to effectively identify the detailed features on the surface of the debris-covered glaciers, this study employed the pyramid image set combined with the least square matching (LSM) method to track the feature points of 3D displacement field. We acquired digital orthophoto map (DOM) and digital surface model (DSM) by UAV mapping at the lower part of Gongba Glacier, Mt. Gongga, on June 9 and October 17, 2018. Feature points were extracted and tracked to obtain a 3D glacier surface displacement field, which suggests that the mean surface displacement velocity was 7.51 cm/d and the ablation was over 11 cm/d at the glacier tongue. This study provides effective reference for monitoring glaciers and glacial related hazards in steep terrain regions and unreachable mountainous areas.

Key words: UAV, LSM, pyramid image, Gongba Glacier, glacier ablation