#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. A new method for studying the glaciers surface using drones was proposed by scientists from the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MSUGC). According to the authors, the results of their work will provide new data on the nature of the movement (oscillations) of glaciers, which are an indicator of climate change on the planet. The results of the study were published in the Geodesy and Cartography magazine.
“Antarctica plays a significant role in shaping the climate of the Southern Hemisphere and the Earth as a whole. According to the glaciers movement in the polar regions, global climate changes occurring on the planet are estimated. The glaciers study has been carried out since they have been discovered, and scientists are constantly looking for more accurate methods for this”, said Tatyana Skrypitsina, one of the study authors, the MSUGC photogrammetry department associate professor.
To study changes in the glaciers surface, scientists have proposed a new research way – a modified pseudo-parallax method (shift of a moving point along the coordinate axis in two images taken after a certain time interval). The proposed method makes it possible to determine the total displacement vector at a point in three coordinates.
This method was proposed and put into practice in the 1970s by Moscow State University professor Yuri Knizhnikov. According to the associate professor, in order to analyze changes in the landscape of glaciers, it is necessary to find images – identical elements in the images, for example, fragments of cracks. For their search and measurements, modern algorithms for automatic photogrammetric processing of digital images were used.
Glacier surface spatial displacements fixation occurred on orthophoto images and digital models of the glacier relief obtained from photographs taken by unmanned aerial vehicles. Previously, such images were taken from the Earth’s surface and the results were determined by the shooting conditions and the professional skills of the researcher, including the ability to measure using a stereoscopic model, while hard-to-reach parts of the glacier remained unexplored.
“Climatic factors – temperature, precipitation, tides in the ocean, winds – directly affect the glacier behavior. To analyze how a changing climate is affecting glacier fluctuations, observations need to be continued and compared with past data. And in 8-10 years it will be possible to compare the results and draw conclusions and forecasts. In particular, this is of great importance for the design and laying of sledge-caterpillar tracks for communication between different stations”, said Tatiana Skrypitsyna.
The scientists compared the data of this study with the results of observations of the Fridtjof Glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. It turned out that the rate of movement and the nature of the distribution of ice mass near glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic coincide.
As the authors noted, the results of their work can be applied not only in glaciology and climatology, but also in forecasting emergency situations on glaciers. For example, in the area where the observations were made, there is a strategically important route along which Russian sledge-caterpillar expedition trains constantly move to the glacier from Progress station to Vostok station. Observations of the glacier movement provide a prediction of the cracks and dips formation along the way.
In the future, the proposed method can be applied to study any objects that change in time and whose dynamics have to be observed.
Text: Ekaterina Maksimova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko