Geologist uses lidar to monitor Greenland Glacier ice loss

November 30, 2017  - By 0 Comments
A Riegl VZ-6000 laser scanner, operating at 1064 um wavelength, serves as the backbone of the ATLAS system.

A Riegl VZ-6000 laser scanner, operating at 1064 um wavelength, serves as the backbone of the ATLAS system.

Leigh Stearns, a geologist with the University of Kansas, is working with a Riegl VZ-6000 ultra long range terrestrial laser scanner, incorporated into an ATLAS (Autonomous Terrestrial Laser Scanning) system, to monitor rates of ice loss on the Helheim Glacier, a tidewater glacier undergoing large-scale changes due to global climate change.

“Lidar is an emerging technology for the earth sciences because it produces an incredibly detailed 3-D view of features,” said the KU researcher. “Repeat lidar scanning reveals small-scale changes with very high precision. These systems are now used to measure how bridges are sagging, how tectonic faults propagate and now how glaciers flow. The ATLAS systems are unique because they’re designed to scan the glacier terminus every six hours, year-round. That’s not a trivial task when there’s no sunlight in the winter, winds are high and it’s very cold.”

The VZ-6000 high speed, high-resolution terrestrial 3D laser scanner offers an extremely long measurement range of more than 6000 meters for topographic (static) applications. Due to its laser wavelength, it is exceptionally well suited for measuring snowy and icy terrain in glacier mapping and monitoring applications in mountainous regions.

Learn more about the project at the University of Kansas website.

Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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