Mapping glacier forelands based on UAV BVLOS operation in Antarctica

Maciej Dabski, Anna Zmarz*, Mirosław Rodzewicz, Małgorzata Korczak-Abshire, Izabela Karsznia, Katarzyna Lach, Grzegorz Rachlewicz, Katarzyna Chwedorzewska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to show geomorphological mapping of remote Antarctic locations using images taken by a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations. We mapped landform assemblages developed in forelands of Ecology Glacier (EGF), Sphinx Glacier (SGF) and Baranowski Glacier (BGF) in Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 128 (ASPA 128) on King George Island (South Shetland Islands) and inferred about glacial dynamics. The orthophoto and digital elevation model allowed for geomorphological mapping of glacial forelands, including (i) glacial depositional landforms, (ii) fluvial and fluvioglacial landforms, (iii) littoral and lacustrine landforms, (iv) bodies of water, and (v) other. The largest area is occupied by ground moraine and glacial lagoons on EGF and BGF. The most profound features of EGF are the large latero-frontal moraine ridges from Little Ice Age and the first half of the 20th century. Large areas of ground moraine, frequently fluted and marked with large recessional moraine ridges, dominate on SGF. A significant percentage of bedrock outcrops and end moraine complexes characterize BGF. The landform assemblages are typical for discontinuous fast ice flow of tidewater glaciers over a deformable bed. It is inferred that ice flow velocity decreased as a result of recession from the sea coast, resulting in a significant decrease in the length of ice cliffs and decrease in calving rate. Image acquisition during the fixed-wing UAV BVLOS operation proved to be a very robust technique in harsh polar conditions of King George Island.

Original languageEnglish
Article number630
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • BVLOS operations
  • Geomorphological mapping
  • Glacial forelands
  • Glacial landforms;Western Antarctica
  • King George Island
  • Photointerpretation
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle


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