Detecting and Monitoring Change to an Arctic Heritage Site Using UAV Photogrammetry: A Case Study From Qikiqtaruk / Herschel Island, YT

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Arctic heritage sites are increasingly at risk due to modern climate change. Traditional documentation and monitoring of valuable heritage resources are time-consuming. In recent years, UAV (drone) photogrammetry has become a powerful tool for visualizing heritage sites. This research goes beyond visualization by evaluating the suitability of UAV data, acquired for documenting heritage resources, and for other reasons, to perform change detection analysis on Arctic cultural landscapes. The procedures developed throughout this research can also be used to create a heritage monitoring strategy. The case study used in this research is Simpson Point on Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island), the most western Canadian Arctic island and the only island on the Yukon coast. Within Herschel Island – Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park, the heritage resources represent 800 years of continuous occupation by Inuvialuit, their ancestors, the Thule, and Euro-North Americans. UAV imagery of Simpson Point from July 2017 and 2019 was processed using photogrammetric software. The outputs (orthomosaics and point clouds) were prepared prior to employing two highly compatible change detection methods. The results of the change detection analysis were used to explore short-term change to the heritage features and the landscape, some of which are the result of climate change-induced overland flooding and coastal erosion. Other changes required confirmation from heritage restoration personnel. The framework of a heritage monitoring strategy for the territorial park, improvements to the future UAV data collection strategy, and the advantages and disadvantages of the change detection methods used are discussed. In addition, an emphasis is placed on the importance of data sharing, the reuse of found data, and the long-term curation of digital data.
Aerial Photogrammetry, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Heritage-At-Risk, Heritage Monitoring, Heritage Management, Inuvialuit, Climate Change, Data Sharing, Change Detection Analysis, Arctic Archaeology, Yukon
O'Keefe, K. (2022). Detecting and monitoring change to an Arctic heritage site using UAV photogrammetry: a case study from Qikiqtaruk / Herschel Island, YT (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from