ITTC Project

Development of Radar System for Accumulation Rate Measurements

Project Award Date: 09-01-1998


One of the major goals of NASAs Office of Earth Science Polar Program is to determine the mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Accumulation rate is a key variable in assessing the mass balance of an ice sheet. Currently, accumulation rate is determined from ice cores and pits. These data are sparse, and large uncertainties remain in existing accumulation-rate maps, which are derived from sparely distributed ice cores and pits. The aim of this project is to design, develop, and test a radar system for mapping shallow volcanic horizons that will help determine the accumulation rate over the Greenlands ice sheet.

The goal is to develop ultra-wideband radar for determining accumulation rate, as well as to design and to develop the radar system, by using the latest RF and digital technologies. Ultra-wideband radar would operate over the frequency range from 100 to 2000MHz, for imaging the top 200 to 300 meters of ice with high resolution that will use both echo amplitude and phase information. Finite-difference, time-domain techniques will be employed to determine optimum radar parameters by simulating the scattering response of the ice sheet due to radar sounding.

To meet this goal, an ultra-wideband, frequency-modulated, continuous-wave radar system (FMCW) will be developed to map the volcanic layers in the ice. The radar system will operate over the frequency range from 170 to 2000 MHz for imaging the top 200 to 300 meters of ice with high resolution. In 1998 and 1999, shallow-radar sounding experiments took place at the North Greenland Ice Core Project site and the North Greenland Ice Core Project ice camp. Results revealed that volcanic layers were mapped down to 200m with high resolution.

The project's focus will turn to designing and developing a step-frequency radar system for airborne experiments. It will also test the new system, publish field results, and analyze data from those airborne experiments.


Faculty Investigator(s): Sivaprasad Gogineni (PI), Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam

Project Sponsors

Primary Sponsor(s): NASA

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