Documenting climate change - with a drone

By Lauren Young NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson headed to Greenland in June, he travelled with a heavy, oversized rolling bag containing a crucial piece of equipment to document climate change. Jackson, one of a handful of Reuters photographers licensed to operate a drone, spent seven rainy days camped alongside Greenland's Helheim glacier, near the small seaside village of Tasiilaq

Reuters September 21, 2018 05:05:14 IST
Documenting climate change - with a drone

Documenting climate change  with a drone

By Lauren Young

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson headed to Greenland in June, he travelled with a heavy, oversized rolling bag containing a crucial piece of equipment to document climate change.

Jackson, one of a handful of Reuters photographers licensed to operate a drone, spent seven rainy days camped alongside Greenland's Helheim glacier, near the small seaside village of Tasiilaq.

    Using an Inspire 1 Pro drone, Jackson captured more than 700 gigabytes of footage and images in Greenland (https://graphics.reuters.com/CLIMATECHANGE-GREENLAND-CHALLENGES/010080EH0V0/index.html).

Drones are an emerging tool for newsgathering, but they potentially pose several legal and ethical challenges, including the violation of privacy.

Until now, Reuters has used drones only on rare occasions. But Greenland provided a perfect opportunity since a drone is inexpensive to operate. By contrast, renting a helicopter can cost thousands of dollars per day.

The drone offered Jackson the ideal way to procure bird's eye shots and video of icebergs and glaciers as well as footage of scientists monitoring rising sea levels, without disrupting their research.

    "People are tempted to use a drone just to use a drone," Jackson says. "They should be used to get a perspective at an elevated angle that would be too risky or costly to get without a drone."

    Reuters has a detailed policy on drone usage, as outlined in the Reuters Handbook of Journalism (http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php?title=A_Guide_to_the_Newsgathering_Use_of_Drones). That includes steering clear of people, homes, protests or densely populated areas.

    "We should apply heightened consideration and sensitivity to ensure our use of drones does not stalk, harass, or intimidate any person, including any subject of our coverage," the handbook says.

    According to our rules, drones must be used in daylight hours, at specific altitudes and at a safe distance from an airport. As a result, our use of drones so far has been limited. Reuters journalists still typically take overhead shots from helicopters.

    However, drones can shoot images at a lower elevation, often offering more granular details since they can hover in one spot without much movement.

In July, photographer David Gray used a drone to document extreme drought along with its devastating effect on cattle and crops in Eastern Australia. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-drought-widerimage/australias-drought-is-like-a-cancer-eating-away-at-farms-and-families-idUSKBN1KL34C).

The drone let him quietly capture images of farm animals, such as cattle gathered in parched paddocks, without scaring them away.

    Any Reuters journalist who uses a drone for newsgathering must be trained and properly credentialed. To obtain a licence from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Jackson studied weather patterns, flight maps and federal drone laws. He also practiced flying a drone with a Reuters colleague in a park in Flushing, New York.

Drones can keep journalists out of harm's way, so they may seem ideal for covering natural disasters, such as a volcanic eruption or hurricanes. But even in these circumstances, Reuters will continue to use drones sparingly because their flight can interfere with search and rescue missions.

For Jackson, the biggest challenge in Greenland was preserving battery life. The drone lost power after 10 minutes, and it took another hour to recharge.

"I didn't have time to experiment," Jackson said. "I had to know which shots I wanted."

(Reporting by Lauren Young; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.