Comparison of airborne radar altimeter and ground-based Ku-band radar measurements on the ice cap Austfonna, Svalbard
O. Brandt1, R. L. Hawley2,*, J. Kohler1, J. O. Hagen3, E. M. Morris2, T. Dunse3, J. B. T. Scott4, and T. Eiken31Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway 2Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, UK 3University of Oslo, Blindern, Norway 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK *now at: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
Received: 15 Sep 2008 – Discussion started: 03 Nov 2008
Abstract. We compare coincident data from the European Space Agency's Airborne SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter System (ASIRAS) with ground-based Very High Bandwidth (VHB) stepped-frequency radar measurements in the Ku-band. The ASIRAS instrument obtained data from ~700 m above the surface, using a 13.5 GHz center frequency and a 1 GHz bandwidth. The ground-based VHB radar measurements were acquired using the same center frequency, but with a variable bandwidth of either 1 or 8 GHz. Four sites were visited with the VHB radar; two sites within the transition region from superimposed ice to firn, and two sites in the long-term firn area (wet-snow zone). The greater bandwidth VHB measurements show that the first peak in the airborne data is a composite of the return from the surface (i.e. air-snow interface) and returns of similar or stronger amplitude from reflectors in the upper ~30 cm of the subsurface. The peak position in the airborne data is thus not necessarily a good proxy for the surface since the maximum and width of the first return depend on the degree of interference between surface and subsurface reflectors. The major response from the winter snowpack was found to be caused by units of thin crust/ice layers (0.5–2 mm) surrounded by large crystals (>3 mm). In the airborne data, it is possible to track such layers for tens of kilometers. The winter snowpack lacked thicker ice layers. The last year's summer surface, characterized by a low density large crystal layer overlaying a harder denser layer, gives a strong radar response, frequently the strongest. The clear relationship observed between the VHB and ASIRAS waveforms, justifies the use of ground-based radar measurements in the validation of air- or spaceborne radars.
Brandt, O., Hawley, R. L., Kohler, J., Hagen, J. O., Morris, E. M., Dunse, T., Scott, J. B. T., and Eiken, T.: Comparison of airborne radar altimeter and ground-based Ku-band radar measurements on the ice cap Austfonna, Svalbard, The Cryosphere Discuss., 2, 777-810, doi:10.5194/tcd-2-777-2008, 2008.