Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-26
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-26

  10 Feb 2021

10 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Brief communication: An empirical relation between center frequency and measured thickness for radar sounding of temperate glaciers

Joseph A. MacGregor1, Michael Studinger1, Emily Arnold2,3, Carlton J. Leuschen3, and Fernando Rodríguez-Morales3 Joseph A. MacGregor et al.
  • 1Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory (Code 615), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, 20771, United States of America
  • 2Aerospace Engineering Dept., The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, United States of America
  • 3Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, United States of America

Abstract. Radar sounding of the thickness of temperate glaciers is more challenging than for polar ice sheets, due to the former's greater volume scattering (englacial water), surface scattering (crevasses and debris) and dielectric attenuation rate (warmer ice). Lower frequency (~1–100 MHz) radar sounders are commonly deployed to mitigate these effects, but the lack of a synthesis of existing radar-sounding surveys of temperate glaciers limits progress in system and survey design. Here we use a recent global synthesis of measured glacier thickness to evaluate the relation between the radar center frequency and maximum thickness. From a maximum reported thickness of ~1500 m near 1 MHz, the maximum thickness sounded decreases with increasing frequency by ~500 m per frequency decade. Newer airborne radar sounders generally outperform older, ground-based ones at comparable frequencies, so radar-sounder success is also influenced by system design and processing methods. Based on globally modeled glacier thicknesses, we conclude that a multi-element airborne radar sounder with a center frequency of ≤ 30 MHz could survey most temperate glaciers more efficiently than presently available systems.

Joseph A. MacGregor et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Joseph A. MacGregor et al.

Joseph A. MacGregor et al.

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Short summary
By leveraging multiple recent global glacier datasets and extending one of them (GlaThiDa), this manuscript constitutes a novel synthesis of information concerning the past performance and future prospects for radar sounding of the thickness of temperate glaciers. A rough empirical envelope for radar performance as a function of center frequency is determined, and the numerous caveats with assessment of this envelope are presented.