Antarctic photo science archive unlocked
Aerial photos from the 1940s and 1950s are being used to probe the climate history of the Antarctic Peninsula. Scientists are comparing the images with newly acquired data sets to assess the changes that have occurred in some of the region's 400-plus glaciers. The old and modern information has to be very carefully aligned if it is to show up any differences reliably.
And that is a big challenge when snow and ice obscure ground features that might otherwise act as visual anchors. But the researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Newcastle University and University of Gloucestershire believe they are cracking the problem. "We want to use these pictures to work out volume and mass-balance changes in the glaciers through time," explained Dr Lucy Clarke from the University of Gloucestershire.
"There are tens of thousands of these historical images, held by the British Antarctic Survey and the US Geological Survey. "So, they've long been around, but it's only now that we've had the capability to extract the 3D data from them." Dr Clarke has been presenting the work at this week's American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.