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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 4 | Copyright

Special issue: The use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in monitoring...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1055-1071, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 05 Apr 2018

Research article | 05 Apr 2018

Combination of UAV and terrestrial photogrammetry to assess rapid glacier evolution and map glacier hazards

Davide Fugazza1, Marco Scaioni2, Manuel Corti2, Carlo D'Agata3, Roberto Sergio Azzoni3, Massimo Cernuschi4, Claudio Smiraglia1, and Guglielmina Adele Diolaiuti3 Davide Fugazza et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences “A. Desio”, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
  • 2Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
  • 3Department of Environmental Science And Policy, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
  • 4Agricola 2000 S.C.P.A., 20067 Tribiano (MI), Italy

Abstract. Tourists and hikers visiting glaciers all year round face hazards such as sudden terminus collapses, typical of such a dynamically evolving environment. In this study, we analyzed the potential of different survey techniques to analyze hazards of the Forni Glacier, an important geosite located in Stelvio Park (Italian Alps). We carried out surveys in the 2016 ablation season and compared point clouds generated from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) survey, close-range photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). To investigate the evolution of glacier hazards and evaluate the glacier thinning rate, we also used UAV data collected in 2014 and a digital elevation model (DEM) created from an aerial photogrammetric survey of 2007. We found that the integration between terrestrial and UAV photogrammetry is ideal for mapping hazards related to the glacier collapse, while TLS is affected by occlusions and is logistically complex in glacial terrain. Photogrammetric techniques can therefore replace TLS for glacier studies and UAV-based DEMs hold potential for becoming a standard tool in the investigation of glacier thickness changes. Based on our data sets, an increase in the size of collapses was found over the study period, and the glacier thinning rates went from 4.55±0.24ma−1 between 2007 and 2014 to 5.20±1.11ma−1 between 2014 and 2016.

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This paper describes the surveys we performed in 2014 and 2016 by means of UAVs and terrestrial photogrammetry to monitor the Forni Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the Italian Alps. We investigated the hazards related to the glacier collapse, which have been increasing recently due to the high ice melting rate. Our approach is feasible and low cost and we will repeatedly monitor the glacier to provide rapid hazard detection services to help the tourism sector.
This paper describes the surveys we performed in 2014 and 2016 by means of UAVs and terrestrial...