EAGER: L-Band Radar Ice Sounder for Measuring Ice Basal Conditions and Ice-Shelf Melt Rate
Predicting the response of ice sheets to changing climate and their contribution to sea level requires accurate representation in numerical models of basal conditions under the ice. There remain large data gaps for these basal boundary conditions under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as well as in West Antarctica, including basal melt rates under ice shelves. This project developed and tested a prototype ground-based radar system to sound and image ice more than 4km thick, detect thin water films at the ice bed, and determine basal melt rates under ice shelves. The team worked with European partners (France, Italy, Germany) at Dome C to conduct deep-field Antarctic testing of the new radar. The project built and tested an L-band radar system (1.2-1.4GHz) with peak transmit power of 2kW. In addition to sounding and imaging thick ice, detection goals included resolving thin water films (>0.5mm). Such a system targets glaciological problems including site selection for ice in the 1.5-million-year age range, basal stress boundary conditions under grounded ice, and melt rates under floating shelves. By demonstrating feasibility, the project aims to influence sensor selection for satellite missions. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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