ITTC Project

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.


Faculty Investigator(s): Arvin Agah (PI)

Student Investigator(s): Eric Akers, Lance Feagan

Project Sponsors

Primary Sponsor(s): NASA

Partner with ITTC

The Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas has developed several assistance policies that enhance interactions between the Center and local, Kansas, or national companies. 

ITTC assistance includes initial free consulting (normally one to five hours). If additional support is needed, ITTC will offer one of the following approaches: 

Sponsored Research Agreement

Individuals and organizations can enter into agreements with KUCR/ITTC and provide funds for sponsored research to be performed at ITTC with the assistance of faculty, staff and students.

Licensing and Royalty/Equity Agreement

An ITTC goal is the development of investment-grade technologies for transfer to, and marketing by, local, Kansas, and national businesses. To enhance this process, the Center has developed flexible policies that allow for licensing, royalty, and equity arrangements to meet both the needs of ITTC and the company.

Commercialization Development

Companies with a technology need that can be satisfied with ITTC's resources can look to us for assistance. We can develop a relationship with interested partners that will provide for the development of a technology suited for commercialization.

ITTC Resource Access

ITTC resources, including computers and software systems, may be made available to Kansas companies in accordance with the Center's mission and applicable Regents and University policies.

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