Climate scientists in Juneau, Alaska, who have been working to forecast dangerous flash floods have now integrated Wingtra drones into their operation.
The researchers track rising and falling ice and water levels in the Suicide Basin glacial lake in a bid to protect nearby communities from flooding damage.
The flash floods in the Suicide Basin began in 2011, and have damaged infrastructure in the valley several times now.
“The main issue is that it’s ice-covered so we can’t really see the water as it fills up the basin on a seasonal basis,” explained University of Alaska research professor Gabriel Wolken.
That is where the drone data is useful. The team uses orthophoto and digital elevation models from a WingtraOne drone to assess changes to ice levels atop Suicide Basin.
This data helps them track the water level and interactions with the Mendenhall glacier.
“Alaska is a big place,” Wolken continued. “There’s virtually nothing we address that we consider small here.
“So if it’s going to be a drone, we have to have something that can actually fly for a long time, fly high enough to be able to handle the complex terrain that we’re constantly dealing with and provide the resolution that’s required for the analyses that we’re doing.
“The WingtraOne drone covers a large area, efficiently and provides data that is high quality in terms of visualization and location accuracy.”