August 31, 2021

Flight campaign on the Aletsch Glacier

EOC and DLR’s Institute of Optical Sensor Systems (OS) have started a flight campaign over the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland as part of the “Polar Monitor” project. This campaign makes it possible to test various technologies and methodologies for cryosphere research.

For the flight campaign high-resolution optical aerial image data are recorded in various spectral channels (VIS, NIR, TIR) with the OS Modular Aerial Camera System (MACS) and compared with reference data being collected locally at ground level. The flight takes place simultaneously with measurements made by different satellite sensors (for example, on Sentinel-1/2) in order to compare sensors and methodologies and utilize synergies. The digital elevation models generated from the aerial image data allow subsequent conclusions to be drawn about the mass balance of the Aletsch Glacier. The satellite, reference and aerial data can be used together to study and validate changes in the snow cover and snow line.

The expertise of several DLR institutes (DFD, MF, OS, HR) is brought together in the DLR “Polar Monitor” project to study polar and cold regions in order to investigate topics like the possible effects of a changing cryosphere on society. Especially changes in snow cover and glacier mass balances directly influence water availability in mountain regions and on the lower courses of rivers, as well as the global radiation budget.