Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geological Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

Kenneth M. Hinkel

Advisor 2

John S. Gierke

Committee Member 1

Thomas Oommen


Active layer depth and snow depth are annually collected across the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) Network to observe the response of the active layer and near-surface permafrost to climate change over decadal-time scales. Snow depth is typically measured using a graduated steel probe at each grid node but, in this paper, we explore the viability of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (drone) technology to collect snow depth measurements at the 1 km2 Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska CALM grid. This is achieved by comparing estimated UAV snow depths to measured snow depths collected using a MagnaProbe (MP) at each of the 121 grid node locations. It was found that the UAV shows an average snow depth about 7-cm shallower than that measured by the MP. Grid node locations with the most inaccurate UAV snow depths were concentrated in areas with standing water at the time of the summer UAV survey, and at the margins of the survey area.