An Autonomous Mobile Radar for Temperate Ice Thickness Measurements
Project Award Date: 04-02-2001
We propose to develop an autonomous mobile radar system for measuring the thickness and water content of glaciers in temperate regions of the world. No such system currently exists, yet the need for detailed characterizations of temperate glaciers is crucial to understanding the future complex geophysical problems that are occurring in response to climatic warming on a global scale. Recent advances in microwave and digital hardware now make such a radar system technologically feasible. Furthermore, the extensive expertise of our multidisciplinary research team in autonomous vehicles, radar remote sensing of polar ice sheets, glaciology, and atmospheric science allows us to leverage our current research infrastructure and experience to develop a state-of-the-art autonomous mobile radar system that can be rapidly put to use to address several key geophysical issues facing the scientific community and society.
The specific objectives of the proposed research are to develop a wideband step-frequency pulse radar for surface-based and airborne measurements of the thickness of temperate glaciers; to develop a two-dimensional (2-D) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) processing algorithm for improving resolution and signal-to-noise ratio and estimating velocity of propagation; to develop an autonomous mobile platform for conducting surface-based experiments over temperate glaciers; to conduct surface-based experiments on a temperate glacier in Alaska to evaluate the system; and to modify the radar for operation from a light piloted or autonomous aircraft in the future. The proposed work is of direct relevance to the NASA Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) long-term strategic goal of understanding and predicting sea level rise. We also believe that this project has great potential for obtaining long-term non-EPSCoR funding from NASA and other agencies, including international collaborations (see letter of support from ETH-Zurich). This project provides opportunities for two junior faculty members to establish a research program at their respective institutions and will stimulate valuable scientific interactions between the participating universities.
Primary Sponsor(s): NASA