The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B8
23 Jun 2016
 | 23 Jun 2016


V. Kaufmann and G. Seier

Keywords: Terrestrial photogrammetry, Monitoring, Glacier change, Consumer camera, SfM, Automation, Gössnitzkees

Abstract. Gössnitzkees is a small heavily debris-covered cirque glacier (49.8 ha) located in the Schober Mountains, Hohe Tauern Range, Austrian Alps. Glacier nourishment is mainly due to avalanches descending from its surrounding headwalls. Gössnitzkees is the largest glacier in the Schober Mountains and is highly representative of the other 25 glaciers of this mountain group. All glaciers of this mountain group have receded continuously since 1850. Ongoing atmospheric warming sustains excessive glacier melt. In 1988 a long-term monitoring program was started at Gössnitzkees using terrestrial photogrammetry in order to document and quantify glacier change. The surveys have been repeated from time to time using different types of cameras. Recent surveys date from 2009, 2012, and 2015. The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, to investigate whether or not the rather complex photogrammetric evaluation process using a conventional photogrammetric workstation (mostly with a limited degree of automation for terrestrial applications) can be replaced by modern fully automated Structure-from-Motion (SfM) based approaches, and secondly, to document and quantify the glacier change at Gössnitzkees based on available information augmented by results obtained from the most recent surveys mentioned. Over the last 27 years (1988-2015) the terminus of Gössnitzkees has receded by 179 m and the glacier ice has melted at a mean annual rate of about 1.5 m/year. The Schober Mountains are in the process of deglaciation and the glaciers will likely disappear within the next two decades. Based on our practical investigations we found out that SfM-based software is in general capable of handling terrestrial photographs in a fully automatic mode supporting challenging glacier studies.