The University of Kansas developed a coherent radar depth sounder during the 1980s. This system was originally developed for glacial ice-thickness measurements in the -Antarctic. During the field tests in the Antarctic and Greenland, we found the system performance to be less than optimum. The field tests in Greenland were performed in 1993, as a part of the NASA Program for Arctic Climate Assessment (PARCA). We redesigned and rebuilt this system to improve the performance.
The radar uses pulse compression and coherent signal processing to obtain high sensitivity and fine along-track resolution. It operates at a center frequency of 150 MHz with a radio frequency bandwidth of about 17 MHz., which gives a range resolution of about 5m in ice. We have been operating it from a NASA P-3 aircraft for collecting ice-thickness data in conjunction with laser surface-elevation measurements over the Greenland ice sheet during the last 4years. We have demonstrated that this radar can measure the thickness of more than 3 km of cold ice and can obtain ice-thickness information over outlet glaciers and ice margins.
In this paper we provide a brief survey of radar sounding of glacial ice, followed by a description of the system and subsystem design and performance. We also show sample results from the held experiments over the Greenland ice sheet and its outlet glaciers.