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Open AccessArticle

Centimetric Accuracy in Snow Depth Using Unmanned Aerial System Photogrammetry and a MultiStation

Politecnico di Milano, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, 94720 CA, USA
Politecnico di Torino, Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy
Università degli Studi di Genova, Laboratory of Geodesy, Geomatics and GIS, Via Montallegro 1, 16145 Genova, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Authors in alphabetical order.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 765;
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 5 May 2018 / Accepted: 14 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mountain Remote Sensing)
Performing two independent surveys in 2016 and 2017 over a flat sample plot (6700 m 2 ), we compare snow-depth measurements from Unmanned-Aerial-System (UAS) photogrammetry and from a new high-resolution laser-scanning device (MultiStation) with manual probing, the standard technique used by operational services around the world. While previous comparisons already used laser scanners, we tested for the first time a MultiStation, which has a different measurement principle and is thus capable of millimetric accuracy. Both remote-sensing techniques measured point clouds with centimetric resolution, while we manually collected a relatively dense amount of manual data (135 pt in 2016 and 115 pt in 2017). UAS photogrammetry and the MultiStation showed repeatable, centimetric agreement in measuring the spatial distribution of seasonal, dense snowpack under optimal illumination and topographic conditions (maximum RMSE of 0.036 m between point clouds on snow). A large fraction of this difference could be due to simultaneous snowmelt, as the RMSE between UAS photogrammetry and the MultiStation on bare soil is equal to 0.02 m. The RMSE between UAS data and manual probing is in the order of 0.20–0.30 m, but decreases to 0.06–0.17 m when areas of potential outliers like vegetation or river beds are excluded. Compact and portable remote-sensing devices like UASs or a MultiStation can thus be successfully deployed during operational manual snow courses to capture spatial snapshots of snow-depth distribution with a repeatable, vertical centimetric accuracy. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAS; laser scanning; snow; snow courses; MultiStation UAS; laser scanning; snow; snow courses; MultiStation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Avanzi, F.; Bianchi, A.; Cina, A.; De Michele, C.; Maschio, P.; Pagliari, D.; Passoni, D.; Pinto, L.; Piras, M.; Rossi, L. Centimetric Accuracy in Snow Depth Using Unmanned Aerial System Photogrammetry and a MultiStation. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 765.

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