Project! Glacier By Drone

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Imagine seeing something the size of your cell phone clearly from the top of a 15-story building. This is the resolution we can get of the glacier surface using a fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, aka drone). For our Glaciology Summer School project, we are investigating mass loss near the Kennicott Glacier terminus (the lowest part of the glacier). UAVs are an inexpensive but effective method for studying changes on the Earth surface. With a simple point-and-shoot camera, we are able to get images with a resolution in the ten centimeter range, from a height of 150 meters. We flew the drone over the Kennicott glacier, and are using the images to build a 3D model of the glacier in its current state. Using that, we can then compare to historical data to see how the glacier changes over time. (And it’s so much fun.)

- Denis, Alex, Jenna

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mini-mike_at_drone_controls

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2 Responses to Project! Glacier By Drone

  1. Jessica says:

    Is it fun to fly the drone? How do you decide who gets to fly it?

    • Denis says:

      Hi Jessica! It’s a lot of fun to watch the drone fly but it’s very stressful to actually be at the controls. Especially during takeoff and landing. Our supervisor was the one flying it this time.

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