Skip to Main Content
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) initiated a program called Operation IceBridge for monitoring critical parts of Greenland and Antarctica with airborne LIDARs until ICESat-II is launched in 2016. We have been operating radar instrumentation on the NASA DC-8 and P-3 aircraft used for LIDAR measurements over Antarctica and Greenland, respectively. The radar package on both aircraft includes a radar depth sounder/imager operating at the center frequency of 195 MHz. During high-altitude missions flown to perform surface-elevation measurements, we also collected radar depth sounder data. We obtained good ice thickness information and mapped internal layers for both thicker and thinner ice. We successfully sounded 3.2-km-thick low-loss ice with a smooth surface and also sounded about 1-km or less thick shallow ice with a moderately rough surface. The successful sounding required processing of data with an algorithm to obtain 56-dB or lower range sidelobes and array processing with a minimum variance distortionless response algorithm to reduce cross-track surface clutter. In this paper, we provide a brief description of the radar system, discuss range-sidelobe reduction and array processing algorithms, and provide sample results to demonstrate the successful sounding of the ice bottom interface from high altitudes over the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.