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Noon seminar - Cameras pointed at glaciers: Extracting precise high-frequency glacier observations

Monday, April 22, 2019, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Ethan Welty


SEEC room S228


Cameras pointed at glaciers: Extracting precise high-frequency glacier observations from time-lapse photography


Cameras are the inseparable sidekicks of field scientists everywhere. Although not intended for precise measurement, cameras are capable of such, provided they are properly calibrated. I present a suite of methods for precisely recovering position and time from photographs, so that they may be analyzed alongside other spatial and temporal data. The methods are tested on a vast archive of time-lapse photographs from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier.

A novel feature tracking algorithm (based on particle filtering theory) is then applied to 33,000 Columbia Glacier time-lapse photographs to recover detailed glacier velocities, their associated uncertainties, and corresponding strain rates at 3-day intervals over a 13-year period, providing an unprecedented look at the seasonal and sub-seasonal variability of tidewater glacier dynamics over long time scales. This image processing pipeline has been published as open-source software and awaits more test cases, both within and beyond glaciology.


Free and open to the public.