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Snow accumulation rate is an important parameter in determining the mass balance of polar ice sheets. Accumulation rate is currently determined by analyzing ice cores and snow pits. Inadequate sampling of the spatial variations in the ice sheet accumulation has resulted in accumulation rate uncertainties as large as 24%. We designed and developed a 600-900-MHz airborne radar system for high-resolution mapping of the near-surface internal layers for estimating the accumulation rate of polar ice sheets. Our radar system can provide improved spatial and temporal coverage by mapping a continuous profile of the isochronous layers in the ice sheet. During the 2002 field season in Greenland, we successfully mapped the near-surface layers to a depth of 200 m in the dry-snow zone, 120 m in the percolation zone, and 20 m in the melt zone. We determined the water equivalent accumulation rate at the NASA-U_1 site to be 34.9±5.1 cm/year from 1964 to 1992. This is in close agreement with the ice-core derived accumulation rate of 34.6 cm/year for the same period.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:42 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: March 2004