Coherent radar ice thickness measurements over the Greenland ice sheet


Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Geophysical Research-AtmospheresJournal of Geophysical Research-AtmospheresJournal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Volume 106, Number D24, p.33761-33772 (2001)






We developed two 150-MHz coherent radar depth sounders for ice thickness measurements over the Greenland ice sheet. We developed one of these using connectorized components and the other using radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs). Both systems are designed to use pulse compression techniques and coherent integration to obtain the high sensitivity required to measure the thickness of more than 4 km of cold ice. We used these systems to collect radar data over the interior and margins of the ice sheet and several outlet glaciers. We operated both radar systems on the NASA P-3B aircraft equipped with GPS receivers. Radar data are tagged with GPS-derived location information and are collected in conjunction with laser altimeter measurements. We have reduced all data collected since 1993 and derived ice thickness along all flight lines flown in support of Program for Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA) investigations and the North Greenland Ice Core Project. Radar echograms and derived ice thickness data are placed on a server at the University of Kansas (http://tornado. for easy access by the scientific community. We obtained good ice thickness information with an accuracy of +/-10 m over 90% of the flight lines flown as a part of the PARCA initiative. In this paper we provide a brief description of the system along with samples of data over the interior, along the 2000-m contour line in the south and from a few selected outlet glaciers.


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