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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Ewertowski, Marek, Tomczyk, Aleksandra, Evans, David J A, Roberts, David H & Ewertowski, Wojciech Operational Framework for Rapid, Very-high Resolution Mapping of Glacial Geomorphology Using Low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Structure-from-Motion Approach. Remote Sensing. 2019;11:65.

Author(s) from Durham


This study presents the operational framework for rapid, very-high resolution mapping of glacial geomorphology, with the use of budget Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and a structure-from-motion approach. The proposed workflow comprises seven stages: (1) Preparation and selection of the appropriate platform; (2) transport; (3) preliminary on-site activities (including optional ground-control-point collection); (4) pre-flight setup and checks; (5) conducting the mission; (6) data processing; and (7) mapping and change detection. The application of the proposed framework has been illustrated by a mapping case study on the glacial foreland of Hørbyebreen, Svalbard, Norway. A consumer-grade quadcopter (DJI Phantom) was used to collect the data, while images were processed using the structure-from-motion approach. The resultant orthomosaic (1.9 cm ground sampling distance—GSD) and digital elevation model (7.9 cm GSD) were used to map the glacial-related landforms in detail. It demonstrated the applicability of the proposed framework to map and potentially monitor detailed changes in a rapidly evolving proglacial environment, using a low-cost approach. Its coverage of multiple aspects ensures that the proposed framework is universal and can be applied in a broader range of settings.

Department of Geography