A direct helicopter EM sea ice thickness inversion, assessed with synthetic and field data

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Pfaffling, A. , Haas, C. and Reid, J. E. (2007): A direct helicopter EM sea ice thickness inversion, assessed with synthetic and field data , Geophysics, 72, F127-F137 .
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Accuracy and precision of helicopter electromagneticHEM sounding are the essential parameters for HEM seaicethickness profiling. For sea-ice thickness research, thequality of HEM ice thickness estimates must be better than10 cm to detect potential climatologic thickness changes.Weintroduce and assess a direct, 1D HEM data inversion algorithmfor estimating sea-ice thickness. For synthetic qualityassessment, an analytically determined HEM sea-ice thicknesssensitivity is used to derive precision and accuracy. Precisionis related directly to random, instrumental noise, althoughaccuracy is defined by systematic bias arising fromthe data processing algorithm. For the in-phase component ofthe HEM response, sensitivity increases with frequency andcoil spacing, but decreases with flying height. For small-scaleHEM instruments used in sea-ice thickness surveys, instrumentalnoise must not exceed 5 ppm to reach ice thicknessprecision of 10 cm at 15-m nominal flying height. Comparableprecision is yielded at 30-m height for conventional explorationHEM systems with bigger coil spacings. Accuracylosses caused by approximations made for the direct inversionare negligible for brackish water and remain better than10 cm for saline water. Synthetic precision and accuracy estimatesare verified with drill-hole validated field data fromEast Antarctica, where HEM-derived level-ice thicknessagrees with drilling results to within 4%, or 2 cm.

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