Structure-From-Motion Photogrammetry to Support the Assessment of Collapse Risk in Alpine Glaciers

  • Marco ScaioniEmail author
  • Luigi Barazzetti
  • Vasil Yordanov
  • Roberto S. Azzoni
  • Davide Fugazza
  • Massimo Cernuschi
  • Guglielmina A. Diolaiuti
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


The application of Structure-from-Motion (SfM) Photogrammetry with ground-based and UAV camera stations may be exploited for modelling the topographic surface of Alpine glaciers. Multi-temporal repeated surveys lead to geometric models that may be applied to analyze the glacier retreat under global warming conditions. Thanks to the integration of point clouds obtained from ground-based and UAV imaging platforms, a complete 3D reconstruction also including vertical and sub-vertical surfaces may be achieved. These 3D models may be also exploited to understand the precursory signals of local collapse that might represent a risk for tourists and hikers visiting glaciers. In this paper a review on the application of SfM Photogrammetry in the field of glaciological studies is reported. The case of Forni Glacier in the Italian Alps is presented as emblematic study. Photogrammetric data sets obtained from measurement campaigns carried out in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been processed using a common workflow. Attention is paid to a few crucial aspects, such as image orientation and calibration, dense surface matching, georeferencing and data fusion. In the end, the use of output point clouds to evaluate the risk of collapse in the Forni Glacier is addressed.



This study was funded by DARA (Department for regional affairs and autonomies) of the Presidency of the Council of the Italian Government). The authors acknowledge the Central Scientific Committee of CAI (Italian Alpine Club) and Levissima San Pellegrino S.P.A. for funding the UAV quadcopter. The authors also thank Stelvio Park Authority for the logistic support and for permitting the UAV surveys. The authors would also like to acknowledge those colleagues, students and friends who helped with different stages of field operations. In particular Manuel Corti and Julién Crippa.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Scaioni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luigi Barazzetti
    • 1
  • Vasil Yordanov
    • 2
  • Roberto S. Azzoni
    • 3
  • Davide Fugazza
    • 4
  • Massimo Cernuschi
    • 5
  • Guglielmina A. Diolaiuti
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (DABC)Politecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Polo Territoriale di LeccoPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science and Policy (DESP)Università degli studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  4. 4.Department of Earth Sciences “Ardito Desio”Università degli studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  5. 5.Agricola 2000 S.C.P.ATribianoItaly

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