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The potential of UAV photogrammetry for hydro-glaciological forecasts


In this project we analyze new landscapes which are emerging though glacier retreat, and identify locations which may be suitable for potential new water storages and hydropower production once glaciers have retreated. This involves modelling the physical hydropower potential but also taking into account environmental, social and economic factors to assess the feasibility of each location.


The future evolution of runoff from glacierized catchments is affected by considerable uncertainties. Runoff forecasts are influenced by errors that arise from (i) the initial hydrologic conditions of the catchment, (ii) the hydrological model input forcings and (iii) the hydrological model structure. This project focuses on the impact of the weather forecasts, which are used as input in hydrological models. The aim is to find how the accuracy of the weather forecasts impact the accuracy of resulting runoff predictions.

Weather forecasts are not the only input data of the hydrological model that present uncertainties. Snow height or glacier ice velocity are other examples.  In this project, new surveying methods based on UAV photogrammetry were tested for snow and ice. The results shows that this technique can generate accurate and high resolution datasets on both glaciers and snow surfaces. UAV photogrammetry has therefore the potential of generating more exact ice- and snow-related input data for hydrological models. This will in turn increase the performance of streamflow forecasts.

Project details

Project duration

2014 - 2018