Derivation of high spatial resolution albedo from UAV digital imagery: Application over the Greenland ice sheet

Jonathan C. Ryan, Alun Hubbard, Jason E. Box, Stephen Brough, Karen Cameron, Joseph M. Cook, Matthew Cooper, Samuel H. Doyle, Arwyn Edwards, Tom Holt, Tristram Irvine-Fynn, Christine Jones, Lincoln H. Pitcher, Asa K. Rennermalm, Laurence C. Smith, Marek Stibal, Neal Snooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Measurements of albedo are a prerequisite for modeling surface melt across the Earth’s cryosphere, yet available satellite products are limited in spatial and/or temporal resolution. Here, we present a practical methodology to obtain centimeter resolution albedo products with accuracies of ± 5% using consumer-grade digital camera and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies. Our method comprises a workflow for processing, correcting and calibrating raw digital images using a white reference target, and upward and downward shortwave radiation measurements from broadband silicon pyranometers. We demonstrate the method with a set of UAV sorties over the western, K-sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The resulting albedo product, UAV10A1, covers 280 km2, at a resolution of 20 cm per pixel and has a root-mean-square difference of 3.7% compared to MOD10A1 and 4.9% compared to ground-based broadband pyranometer measurements. By continuously measuring downward solar irradiance, the technique overcomes previous limitations due to variable illumination conditions during and between surveys over glaciated terrain. The current miniaturization of multispectral sensors and incorporation of upward facing radiation sensors on UAV packages means that this technique could become increasingly common in field studies and used for a wide range of applications. These include the mapping of debris, dust, cryoconite and bioalbedo, and directly constraining surface energy balance models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalFrontiers in Earth Science
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 23 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • Albedo
  • Digital camera
  • Energy balance modelling
  • Greenland ice sheet
  • Remote sensing
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle

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