Stretching time series further in the past with the best possible accuracy is essential to the understanding of climate change impacts and geomorphological processes evolving on decadal-scale time spans. In the first half of the twentieth century, large parts of the polar regions were still unmapped or only superficially so. To create cartographic data, a number of historic photogrammetric campaigns were conducted using oblique imagery, which is easier to work with in unmapped environments as collocating images is an easier task for the human eye given a more familiar viewing angle and a larger field of view. Even if the data obtained from such campaigns gave a good baseline for the mapping of the area, the precision and accuracy are to be considered with caution. Exploiting the possibilities arising from modern image processing tools and reprocessing the archives to obtain better data is therefore a task worth the effort. The oblique angle of view of the data is offering a challenge to classical photogrammetric tools, but the use of modern structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry offers an efficient and quantitative way to process these data into terrain models. In this paper, we propose a good practice method for processing historical oblique imagery using free and open source software (MicMac and Python) and illustrate the process using images of the Svalbard archipelago acquired in 1936 by the Norwegian Polar Institute. On these data, our workflow provides 5 m resolution, high-quality elevation data (SD 2 m for moderate terrain) as well as orthoimages that allow for the reliable quantification of terrain change when compared to more modern data.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International