Ice roughness estimation via remotely piloted aircraft and photogrammetry

Ehrman, James; Clark, Shawn; Wall, Alexander

The monitoring of fluvial ice covers can be time intensive, dangerous, and costly if detailed data are required. Ice covers on a river surface cause resistance to water flow, which increases upstream water levels. Ice with a higher degree of roughness causes increased flow resistance and therefore even higher upstream water levels. Aerial images collected via remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) were processed with structure from motion photogrammetry to create a digital elevation model (DEM) and then produce quantitative measurements of surface ice roughness. Images and surface ice roughness values were collected over 2 years on the Dauphin River in Manitoba, Canada. It was hypothesized that surface ice roughness would be indicative of subsurface ice roughness. This hypothesis was tested by comparing RPA-measured surface ice roughness values to those predicted by the Nezhikhovskiy equation, wherein subsurface ice roughness is proportional to ice thickness. Various statistical metrics were used to represent the roughness height of the DEMs. Strong trends were identified in the comparison of RPA-measured ice surface roughness to subsurface ice roughness values predicted by the Nezhikhovskiy equation, as well as with comparisons to ice thickness. The standard deviation and interquartile range of roughness heights were determined to be the most representative statistical metrics and several properties of the DEMs of fluvial ice covers were calculated and observed. No DEMs were found to be normally distributed. This first attempt at using RPA-derived measurements of surface ice roughness to estimate river ice flow resistance is shown to have considerable potential and will hopefully be verified and improved upon by subsequent measurements on a wide variety of rivers and ice covers.



Ehrman, James / Clark, Shawn / Wall, Alexander: Ice roughness estimation via remotely piloted aircraft and photogrammetry. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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