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Supplements of Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria
Volume V - 2001


Proceedings of the 8th Italian Glaciological Meeting


Proposta per la realizzazione di un catalogo aerofotografico dei ghiacciai italiani – Proposal for the realization of an inventory of aerial photographies of glaciological interest in Italy

Pages 89-98


Photography is an important tool to study the glacierized areas of the Alps and to monitor glacier changes: since 1979, members of the Comitato Glaciologico Italiano collect and catalog in special archives photographic images of Italian glaciers taken during annual field-trips or researches. Another important iconographic heritage on Italian glaciers has been made up during last decades, due to the still more frequent use of remote sensing imagery for scientific and applied studies of the Earth’s surface. We refer to images from aerial photography, which proves itself as an irreplaceable tool for several reasons: 1) it allows an unitary and homogeneous view of extended parts of an area , included those of difficult accessibilty on the field; 2) if sever al aerial photographs of the same area are spread over a peri – od of time , multitemporal photo-interpretative analysis are possible; 3) coheval images of an extended portion of a region allow to carry out evaluations concerning climatic changes; 4) high-definition remote sensing is a primary tool in the evaluation of hazard and risk connected to dinamically very active physiographic units such as glaciers. On the basis of the above mentioned considerations a project has been elaborated to perform an inventory of aerial photographs of glaciological interest in Ital y: they constitute a conspicuous and valuable heritage, sometimes difficult to being utilized because of images’ dispersion and disorganization. The recording form of the data base has been drawn up to collect either technical data concerning the aerial photographic shots (Dati sui volo = flight data; Caratteristiche dell’immagine = image’s characteristics), either useful informations to reconstruct the morphological evolution of the glacier (= Aspetti Morfologico-Ambientali). A special attention has be en devoted to the search of «objective» standards of description, in order to make easy survey and check of da ta and to allow comparison of data from different researchers. Taking into account the considerabl e amount of available data, during the present experimental stage of the work , the «ae rial photographic strip» has been chosen as the basic unit of cataloguing. Thi s unit allows to differentiate series of aer ial photographs by date, each ser ies showing unique features, due to frequ ent changing meteorol ogical and environment al situations in the glacierized areas. Extensive analysis of aerial ph otographs also enable to sort images by quality: und er cert ain meteorological circumstances there are obstacles to aerial photography int erpretation. Aerial photographs of the Miage Glacier (a major glacier in the Western Alps, Mont Blanc Massif, Italy) have be en collect ed and catalogued in order to check the operation of the dat a base (exec ute d with Filemaker Pro by Claris Co. ) and to show th e funti oning of the inventory of aerial photographs of glaciological inte rest in It aly. Brows ing data from more than 250 photogram s, related to 20 consecuti ve sets of aerial photographic shootings covering a 52 -years time interval (1945- 1997), resulted as a very useful tool to trace the recent dynamic evolutio n of the glacier. Vari ations in size and shape of the glacier (such as the remarkable advance of the ’80s), empting/filling episodes of th e Miage Lake, and oth er glacial events relevant to geomor phological hazards evaluation in ice-margin al environments , have been singled out with great precision.

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