Research methods

Over the past few years, I have built, programmed and operated a fleet of fixed-wing remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) to carry out hundreds of surveys across Arctic environments to address a variety of cryospheric and hydrologic research questions. My first academic publication detailed the construction and operation of a fixed-wing RPA over a large Greenlandic tidewater glacier (Ryan et al., 2015). Since then, the RPA imagery and derived products have been used for multiple applications. Full descriptions of the platform can be found in Ryan et al. (2015), Ryan et al. (2017) and Jouvet et al. (2019).

Some interesting projects that have benefited from RPA imagery include the assessment of the accuracy of a tidewater glacier calving models (Todd et al., 2018, JGR), delineation of supraglacial watersheds (Cooper et al., 2018, The Cryosphere; Smith et al., 2017, PNAS), investigation of structural glaciological features (Jones et al., 2018, Journal of Maps), mapping the extent of ice algae (Ryan et al., 2018, Nat. Comm.; Stibal et al., 2017, GRL) and validation of satellite albedo observations (Ryan et al., 2017, GRL).

I am currently in the process of developing another fleet of RPAs for a wide range of applications in Oregon starting September 2021. I am looking for inquisitive, hardworking students to assist in building and operating. If you enjoy tinkering with electronics and remote-controlled planes (or want to learn), please get in touch.