Universitätssiegel

Funding
Seed funding by Heidelberg University

Duration
2019 - ongoing

 
Project Partners
Dr. Rudolf Sailer
 

AHK-4D - High-resolution and high-frequency monitoring of the rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar (AHK) in Austria

News

Follow the AHK-4D project on ResearchGate and find all research news in our GIScience News Blog and on Twitter: #AHK4D.

Latest papers! Find all details on (1) Measurement of rock glacier surface change over different timescales and (2) multi-directional change detection between point clouds in the full papers:

  • Ulrich, V., Williams, J.G., Zahs, V., Anders, K., Hecht, S., Höfle, B. (2021): Measurement of rock glacier surface change over different timescales using terrestrial laser scanning point clouds. Earth Surface Dynamics. Vol. 9, pp. 19-28. https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-9-19-2021.
  • Williams, J.G., Anders, K., Winiwarter, L., Zahs, V., Höfle, B. (2021): Multi-directional change detection between point clouds. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. 172, pp. 95-113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2020.12.002.
  • Winiwarter, L., Anders, K., Höfle, B. (2021): M3C2-EP: Pushing the limits of 3D topographic point cloud change detection by error propagation. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 178, pp. 240–258. DOI: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2021.06.011.

Find some impressions of the project in the short video below:

Objective

In this project, we investigate topographic change at the alpine rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar, Austria. Based on multitemporal and multi-source 3D point clouds at up to two-week acquisition intervals, we are developing methods to quantify the magnitudes and frequencies of individual processes of topographic change over varying timescales.

We focus on the development of methods that:

  • detect and quantify 3D surface change in multiple directions (Williams et al. 2021) and over different timespans (Ulrich et al. 2021)
  • analyze change from multi-source point clouds obtained from repeated UAV-borne and terrestrial surveys (Zahs et al. 2021, in review)
  • improve the consideration of uncertainties for quantified change (Winiwarter et al. 2021)
  • detect surface change of small magnitudes (< 0.1 m) more confidently (Zahs et al. 2021, in review)
  • consider supplementary surface and subsurface information for the interpretation of geomorphic change, e.g. subsurface data from electrical resistivity tomography and time-lapse images (Zahs et al. 2019)

Find an overview of our 4D methods and developed algorithms here.

AHK4D

The rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar is continuously monitored through terrestrial and UAV-borne laser scanning and photogrammetry. These data are complemented by information obtained from time-lapse-cameras and subsurface data from electrical resistivity tomographys.

Background

Observed changes to rock glacier surfaces reflect the interaction of various geomorphic deformation processes. These include permafrost creep, permafrost slide, zonal thinning or thickening, advection of surface microtopography, 3D straining, general mass changes (heaving or settlement) and horizontal shearing and rotation. The surface changes induced by these processes feature different spatial characteristics, magnitudes and timescales of occurrence, which are not yet fully understood (Moore et al. 2014, Kenner 2018).
Monitoring 3D surface change at high spatial (centimeter point spacing)- and high temporal (sub-monthly)-resolution, allows to characterise the different geomorphic processes by their spatiotemporal dynamics and to reveal their contribution to surface change on rock glaciers. This information can enhance our general understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier deformation and the interaction of rock glaciers with connected environmental systems.

Study Site and Data

The active rock glacier Äußeres Hochebenkar (Ötztal valley, Austria) is continually monitored by us through repeated surveys since 2015. Datasets comprise high spatial- and high temporal (e.g. bi-weekly)- resolution and multisource topographic point clouds, acquired by terrestrial and UAV-borne laser scanning, UAV-borne photogrammetry. These point cloud datasets are complemented by time-lapse cameras and subsurface electrical resistivity tomography measurements for interpretation of underlying processes.

In addition, the simulation and development of improved laser scanning acquisition strategies is an important consideration of the project. Virtual laser scanning can help to efficiently acquire data sets within given limitations (e.g. spatial and temporal resolution, accuracy, spatial completeness) based on available resources. It can further provide complementary simulated point cloud data to develop and test methods for 3D surface change analysis on rock glaciers.

Project Partners

The project is a joint research project between the the 3DGeo Research Group and Geomorphology and Soil Geography Research Group (Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University) and the Institute of Geography of the University of Innsbruck.

Collaborative research and research-oriented education at the rock glacier is carried out by the 3DGeo Research Group and the Institute of Geography of the University of Innsbruck in the frame of the E-TRAINEE project and the project Towards sustainable development of natural environments based on continuous remote sensing monitoring.

Open Access Datasets

Multi-temporal terrestrial laser scanning datasets at the AHK rock glacier are openly available on PANGAEA:

  • Pfeiffer, J., Höfle, B., Hämmerle, M., Zahs, V., Rutzinger, M., Scaioni, M., Lindenbergh, R., Oude Elberink, S., Pirotti, F., Bremer, M., Wujanz, D. & Zieher, T. (2019): Terrestrial laser scanning data of the Äußeres Hochebenkar rock glacier close to Obergurgl, Austria acquired during the Innsbruck Summer School of Alpine Research. PANGAEA. DOI: https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.902042.
Related Projects
Related Research
  • Winiwarter, L., Anders, K., Höfle, B. (2021): M3C2-EP: Pushing the limits of 3D topographic point cloud change detection by error propagation. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 178, pp. 240–258. DOI: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2021.06.011.
  • Ulrich, V., Williams, J.G., Zahs, V., Anders, K., Hecht, S., Höfle, B. (2021): Measurement of rock glacier surface change over different timescales using terrestrial laser scanning point clouds. Earth Surface Dynamics. Vol. 9, pp. 19-28. https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-9-19-2021.
  • Williams, J.G., Anders, K., Winiwarter, L., Zahs, V., Höfle, B. (2021): Multi-directional change detection between point clouds. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. 172, pp. 95-113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2020.12.002.
  • Ulrich, V., Williams, J.G., Zahs, V., Anders, K., Hecht, S., Höfle, B. (2020): Disaggregating surface change mechanisms of a rock glacier using terrestrial laser scanning point clouds acquired at different time scales. Earth Surface Dynamics Discussion. https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2020-55.
  • Zahs, V., Hämmerle, M., Anders, K., Hecht, S., Rutzinger, M., Sailer, R., Williams, J.G., Höfle, B. (2019): Multi-temporal 3D point cloud-based quantification and analysis of geomorphological activity at an alpine rock glacier using airborne and terrestrial LiDAR. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. Vol. 30 (3), pp. 222-238. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppp.2004.
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