4D-LiDAR Snow Cover Monitoring at the Highest Summit of Germany

The all-new terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) of the 3DGeo group (Prof. Bernhard Höfle) has been set up at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus over one week (mid of April 2018) to capture a unique highly temporal time series of the melting and degrading snow cover during the April’s week with the warmest daily maximum temperatures since weather records began. From a fixed position on the research station’s outdoor platform, the scanner captured the surrounding landscape at hourly intervals in 3D high resolution with mm-accuracy (Riegl VZ-2000i).

The research station is located near the summit of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, from where it overviews the Schneeferner (glacier). The Schneeferner is now still completely covered with snow and features a skiing resort operated on top of it.

The time series is an important data basis for research and method development in the Auto3Dscapes project in collaboration with the Forensic Computatioal Geometry Laboratory (FCGL, Dr. Hubert Mara) at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing at Heidelberg University. The dynamic, glaciated mountain landscape is one of the prominent application examples with obvious environmental relevance for the approach in development. We are looking forward to the methodological progress and an improved strategy of permanent and autonomous 3D observation already in the next campaign!

By the way, a lot more Alpine high altitude research from different scientific institutions is continuously going on at the Schneefernerhaus.

This research is supported in part by the Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences (HGS MathComp), founded by DFG grant GSC 220 in the German Universities Excellence Initiative.