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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 4 | Copyright
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 7, 277-288, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-7-277-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Oct 2018

Research article | 15 Oct 2018

Precise DEM extraction from Svalbard using 1936 high oblique imagery

Luc Girod1, Niels Ivar Nielsen1, Frédérique Couderette1,2, Christopher Nuth1, and Andreas Kääb1 Luc Girod et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Postboks 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
  • 2École Nationale des Sciences Géographiques, 6 et 8 Avenue Blaise Pascal, Cité Descartes, 77420 Champs-sur-Marne, France

Abstract. Stretching time series further in the past with the best possible accuracy is essential to the understanding of climate change impacts and geomorphological processes evolving on decadal-scale time spans. In the first half of the twentieth century, large parts of the polar regions were still unmapped or only superficially so. To create cartographic data, a number of historic photogrammetric campaigns were conducted using oblique imagery, which is easier to work with in unmapped environments as collocating images is an easier task for the human eye given a more familiar viewing angle and a larger field of view. Even if the data obtained from such campaigns gave a good baseline for the mapping of the area, the precision and accuracy are to be considered with caution. Exploiting the possibilities arising from modern image processing tools and reprocessing the archives to obtain better data is therefore a task worth the effort. The oblique angle of view of the data is offering a challenge to classical photogrammetric tools, but the use of modern structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry offers an efficient and quantitative way to process these data into terrain models. In this paper, we propose a good practice method for processing historical oblique imagery using free and open source software (MicMac and Python) and illustrate the process using images of the Svalbard archipelago acquired in 1936 by the Norwegian Polar Institute. On these data, our workflow provides 5m resolution, high-quality elevation data (SD2m for moderate terrain) as well as orthoimages that allow for the reliable quantification of terrain change when compared to more modern data.

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Historical surveys performed through the use of aerial photography gave us the first maps of the Arctic. Nearly a century later, a renewed interest in studying the Arctic is rising from the need to understand and quantify climate change. It is therefore time to dig up the archives and extract the maximum of information from the images using the most modern methods. In this study, we show that the aerial survey of Svalbard in 1936–38 provides us with valuable data on the archipelago's glaciers.
Historical surveys performed through the use of aerial photography gave us the first maps of the...
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