Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 11, 653–668, 2017

Special issue: Oldest Ice: finding and interpreting climate proxies in ice...

The Cryosphere, 11, 653–668, 2017

Research article 01 Mar 2017

Research article | 01 Mar 2017

Comparison of measurements from different radio-echo sounding systems and synchronization with the ice core at Dome C, Antarctica

Anna Winter1, Daniel Steinhage1, Emily J. Arnold2, Donald D. Blankenship3, Marie G. P. Cavitte3, Hugh F. J. Corr4, John D. Paden2, Stefano Urbini5, Duncan A. Young3, and Olaf Eisen1,6 Anna Winter et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, Lawrence, KS, USA
  • 3University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Austin, TX, USA
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 5Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy
  • 6Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Universität Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. We present a compilation of radio-echo sounding (RES) measurements of five radar systems (AWI, BAS, CReSIS, INGV and UTIG) around the EPICA Dome C (EDC) drill site, East Antarctica. The aim of our study is to investigate the differences of the various systems in their resolution of internal reflection horizons (IRHs) and bed topography, penetration depth and capacity of imaging the basal layer. We address the questions of the compatibility of existing radar data for common interpretation and the suitability of the individual systems for reconnaissance surveys. We find that the most distinct IRHs and IRH patterns can be identified and transferred between most data sets. Considerable differences between the RES systems exist in range resolution and depiction of the bottom-most region. Considering both aspects, which we judge as crucial factors in the search for old ice, the CReSIS and the UTIG systems are the most suitable ones. In addition to the RES data set comparison we calculate a synthetic radar trace from EDC density and conductivity profiles. We identify 10 common IRHs in the measured RES data and the synthetic trace. We then conduct a sensitivity study for which we remove certain peaks from the input conductivity profile. As a result the respective reflections disappear from the modeled radar trace. In this way, we establish a depth conversion of the measured travel times of the IRHs. Furthermore, we use these sensitivity studies to investigate the cause of observed reflections. The identified IRHs are assigned ages from the EDC's timescale. Due to the isochronous character of these conductivity-caused IRHs, they are a means to extend the Dome C age structure by tracing the IRHs along the RES profiles.