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Pointcatcher software: analysis of glacial time-lapse photography and integration with multitemporal digital elevation models

  • MIKE R. JAMES (a1), PENELOPE HOW (a1) and PETER M. WYNN (a1)

Terrestrial time-lapse photography offers insight into glacial processes through high spatial and temporal resolution imagery. However, oblique camera views complicate measurement in geographic coordinates, and lead to reliance on specific imaging geometries or simplifying assumptions for calculating parameters such as ice velocity. We develop a novel approach that integrates time-lapse imagery with multitemporal DEMs to derive full three-dimensional coordinates for natural features tracked throughout a monoscopic image sequence. This enables daily independent measurement of horizontal (ice flow) and vertical (ice melt) velocities. By combining two terrestrial laser scanner surveys with a 73 days sequence from Sólheimajökull, Iceland, variations in horizontal ice velocity of ~10% were identified over timescales of ~25 days. An overall decrease of ~3.0 m surface elevation showed asynchronous rate changes with the horizontal velocity variations, demonstrating a temporal disconnect between the processes of ice surface lowering and mechanisms of glacier movement. Our software, ‘Pointcatcher’, is freely available for user-friendly interactive processing of general time-lapse sequences and includes Monte Carlo error analysis and uncertainty in projection onto DEM surfaces. It is particularly suited for analysis of challenging oblique glacial imagery, and we discuss good features to track, both for correction of camera motion and for deriving ice velocities.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Correspondence: Mike R. James <>
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