Monitoring glaciers in Peru, Nepal, and India with Raspberry Pi cameras

Can affordable Raspberry Pi cameras do as good a job modelling glaciers as expensive drones?

Last summer, we were tagged in this glorious tweet from Liam Taylor at Leeds School of Geography:

Fast forward to now, and Liam and his colleagues Duncan Quincey and Mark Smith have published their full findings: Evaluation of low-cost Raspberry Pi sensors for structure-from-motion reconstructions of glacier calving fronts. They’ve also showcased their affordable Raspberry Pi-based setup at an international climate summit in Peru, and encouraged local and national governments to adopt this kind of glacial monitoring to help them adapt to climate change challenges.

Shining, shimmering, splendid – but the ice here is retreating

The research work of Liam’s team is the latest addition to our customer success stories. My primary goal in this post is to sprinkle in as many as possible of the magnificent videos and photos which the team shared with us but which we couldn’t fit in over there. Over here, I am king, so buckle up for a photo-focused ride through the Peruvian glaciers.

The aim is to monitor ice recession to see how it is responding to climate change
Lots of the plastic boxes full of Raspberry Pi cameras and computers with their accompanying solar panels resting on the rocks beside a glacial lake
How many camera kits do you need to generate 3D models of glaciers? This many
Better view from the office than Pi Towers

Learn more about glacier modelling using Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi cameras inside the plastic containers can act as part of an early warning system before pieces of glacier break off, which can cause flooding and serious long-term problems for the local area. Each box contains a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera and a Raspberry Pi Zero W. The camera is programmed to take a snapshot at preset intervals over several months. Agisoft Metashape software stitches the overlapping images together to create realistic 3D scenes.

Solar panels replenish the batteries powering the electronics. The weatherproof boxes themselves are the most expensive part of the entire setup.

Our customer story about this project provides an accessible overview of what the team hoped to achieve, why it’s such important work, and how they went about it. Take a look at the team’s published research if you want lots more detail on this fascinating and important initiative.

All images © Liam Taylor, Leeds University School of Geography, reproduced by kind permission

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