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

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

31 Citationer (Scopus)


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 km 2, 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.

Antal sider13
TidsskriftFrontiers in Earth Science
StatusUdgivet - 23 maj 2017


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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