UHF Radar Sounding of Polar Ice Sheets

Daniel.Steinhage [ at ] awi.de


In this letter, we report on the design, development, and field operation of a surface-based multi-channel ultraw- ideband (UWB) ultrahigh frequency (UHF) radar to measure ice thickness, basal conditions, and ice-shelf bottom melt rates. The radar concept is based on the recent success in sounding shallow low-loss ice (∼1 km) and measuring the ice-shelf melt rates with a 600–900-MHz low-power radar, referred to as the accumulation radar. Our proposed radar system operates over the same frequency band, from 600 to 900 MHz, with a peak transmit power of 800 W. We used a large and lightweight 16 m × 17 m antenna array arranged in a Mills cross-configuration to obtain the required radar sensitivity to sound more than 3-km- thick ice and image the internal layers at a fine vertical resolution of about 60 cm. We used the system at the East Greenland Ice-coring Project (EGRIP) site in Summer 2018 to collect data over ∼100 km of lines. We sounded about 2.8-km-thick ice with more than 40-dB signal-to-noise ratio and mapped the internal layers to a depth of almost 2.5 km. Our results show that an airborne or spaceborne radar operating at frequencies as high as 900 MHz with a large antenna array can be used to map large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1109/LGRS.2019.2942582

Cite as
Yan, J. B. , Nunn, J. A. , Gogineni, P. , O'Neill, C. , Simpson, C. D. , Taylor, R. A. , Steinhage, D. , Dahl-Jensen, D. , Miller, H. and Eisen, O. (2020): UHF Radar Sounding of Polar Ice Sheets , IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 17 (7), pp. 1173-1177 . doi: 10.1109/LGRS.2019.2942582



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