Dr Mike J Smith
IGS British Branch Meeting
I attended the International Glaciological Society's British Branch meeting a couple of weeks ago at the School of Geosciences in Edinburgh. As an aside, living close to Luton airport, it is quite convenient to cycle to the airport and fly up. It actually took me longer to get the bus in to the city centre! And the web check in at Luton really is very good. What it did bring home to me, is that, whereas in the past Scottish universities were marginalised by their relative "remoteness", this remoteness has now shifted to universities in northern England such as Newcastle, Durham and York. It took 4 hours to get to Durham, compared to 2 hours to Edinburgh.
This is my second British Branch meeting and it was again and mellow affair with plenty of post-graduate presentations. These are always very good to see; not only to you get a feeling for where "current" research is going, but it providesd a great forum for them to "practise". Long may this tradition continue. Most of the Glaciology centres had some form of presence (Aberystwyth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Queen Mary, Swansea, Scott Polar, BAS), although Durham, Leeds and Sheffield were notable for their absence, so it was a well represented meeting. Being interested in the cross-over between glaciology, remote sensing, GIS and "terrain", Tavi Murray's talk on volume changes of glaciers on Spitsbergen was of particular interest. NERC ARSF have had a couple of summer campaigns collecting, amongst other things, LiDAR. This project formed part of a larger NERC project and developed some long baseline GPS to enable the economic collection of data. The LiDAR were then used alongside the Norwegian historic archive of airborne survey imagery. Whilst the imagery had been flown with appropriate stereoscopic overlaps, it had never been processed. The advent of digital photogrammetry made this (economic) possibility more likely, however GCPs for rectification were still required. And this is where the LiDAR came in; as the LiDAR were accurately georeferenced using DGPS and onboard INS, the terrain data was accurately positioned. The intensity data could then be used to provide GCPs for the digital photogrammetry and then generate DEMs using this archive data. To the project's surprise, there was sufficient contrast on the glaciers to allow the extraction of terrain elevation and then quantify volume changes of ice for a number glaciers. All in all, a very neat integration of technology and multi-epoch data.