60 MHz Ice Sounder

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The Remote Sensing Group of the Danish National Space Center is operating a small Glacier Mapping System suitable for mapping ice, which is not too thick or too hot. The system is based on an old 60 MHz radar (originally designed and put into operation in 1969) upgraded to facilitate a fast and low-cost installation on a Twin Otter aircraft. The antenna is a simple dipole mounted in the Twin Otter tail tie-down hole. The ice sounder and the data acquisition computer are mounted on a dual seat using the safety belts.

The radar relies on simple pulses offering elimination of false layers at the expense of deep ice capability. The system was operated from 1998 as an incoherent logarithmic pulse detection system but it has been updated in 2005 to take advantage of coherent signal processing to suppress surface clutter and radio interference and to improve the along track resolution.

Augmented by a laser altimeter and kinematic GPS, the system has the capability of acquiring accurate data on location and ice surface elevation, and adequate quality data on ice thickness. The system was applied successfully in 1998 in mapping the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier in North-East Greenland in spite of the difficult conditions with melting water on the glacier surface. Since then it has been applied in 3 expeditions mapping the Tarsassuaq drainage basin, the Pakitsoq area, and various other sites in West Greenland.

For the summer 2007 it is planned to map the Greenland ice cap all the way along the edge in order to obtain ancillary date for studies of the ice balance.