UAVs as remote sensing platform in glaciology: Present applications and future prospects

Anshuman Bhardwaj, Lydia Sam, Akanksha, F. Javier Martín-Torres, Rajesh Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

278 Citations (Scopus)


Satellite remote sensing is an effective way to monitor vast extents of global glaciers and snowfields. However, satellite remote sensing is limited by spatial and temporal resolutions and the high costs involved in data acquisition. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based glaciological studies are gaining pace in recent years due to their advantages over conventional remote sensing platforms. UAVs are easy to deploy, with the option of alternating the sensors working in visible, infrared, and microwave wavelengths. The high spatial resolution remote sensing data obtained from these UAV-borne sensors are a significant improvement over the data obtained by traditional remote sensing. The cost involved in data acquisition is minimal and researchers can acquire imagery according to their schedule and convenience. We discuss significant glaciological studies involving UAV as remote sensing platforms. This is the first review work, exclusively dedicated to highlight UAV as a remote sensing platform in glaciology. We examine polar and alpine applications of UAV and their future prospects in separate sections and present an extensive reference list for the readers, so that they can delve into their topic of interest. Because the technology is still widely unexplored for snow and glaciers, we put a special emphasis on discussing the future prospects of utilising UAVs for glaciological research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
Number of pages9
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Glacier
  • Glaciology
  • Ice sheets
  • Remote sensing
  • Snow
  • UAV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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