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An airborne snow-thickness RADAR for marine glaciology application

An airborne snow-thickness RADAR for marine glaciology application
Jan L. Lieser


Jan L Lieser
Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Private Bag 80, 7001, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Peter W Jansen
Integrated Marine Observing System, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Private Bag 110, 7001, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


Snow on sea ice has a profound influence on the albedo of the ice covered ocean and the heat flux between ocean and atmosphere in the sea ice zone. Knowledge of the thickness of the snow cover on sea ice is also essential to compute sea ice thickness from altimeter data. Precise measurements of both, snow and sea ice thickness will allow for an assessment of the performance of numerical models of the physical polar environment. To estimate the thickness of the snow cover on sea ice over sufficiently large areas (tens of kilometres) space-borne instrumentation is required, for example the radar altimeter of CryoSat-2, or the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer AMSR-2. In-situ measurements of snow properties are essential to enable adequate calibration and validation of these satellite data products.

We present an airborne snow thickness RADAR deployed by the Australian Antarctic program in the East Antarctic sea ice zone. This instrument is used to bridge the gap between highly detailed/small scale (space and time) measurements of snow properties, including surface elevation (freeboard), and broad scale/resolution space-borne estimates. These will be used to improve the ice and snow thickness products from satellite laser and radar altimetry, which provide the necessary global coverage for monitoring large-scale change.

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  • 11th June 2013
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This page was last modified on 24 September 2013.