Project Information
Elements: Making Ice Penetrating Radar More Accessible: A tool for finding, downloading and visualizing georeferenced radargrams within the QGIS ecosystem
Start Date:
End Date:
Ice penetrating radar is one of the primary tools that researchers use to study ice sheets and glaciers. With radar, it is possible to see a cross-section of the ice, revealing internal layers and the shape of the rocks under the ice. Among other things, this is important for calculating how much potential sea level change is locked up in the polar ice sheets, and how stable the ice sheets are likely to be in a warming world. This type of data is logistically challenging and expensive to collect. Historically, individual research groups have obtained funding to collect these data sets, and then the data largely stayed within that institution. There has been a recent push to make more and more data openly available, enabling the same datasets to be used by multiple research groups. However, it is still difficult to figure out what data is available because there is no centralized index. Additionally, each group releases data in a different format, which creates an additional hurdle to its use. This project addresses both of those challenges to data reuse by providing a unified tool for discovering where ice penetrating radar data already exists, then allowing the researcher to download and visualize the data. It is integrated into open-source mapping software that many in the research community already use, and makes it possible for non-experts to explore these datasets. This is particularly valuable for early-career researchers and for enabling interdisciplinary work. The US alone has spent many tens of millions of dollars on direct grants to enable the acquisition and analysis of polar ice penetrating radar data, and even more on the associated infrastructure and support costs. Unfortunately, much of these data is not publicly released, and even the data that has been released is not easily accessible. There is significant technical work involved in figuring out how to locate, download and view the data. This project is developing a tool that will both lower the barrier to entry for using this data and improve the workflows of existing users. Quantarctica and QGreenland have rapidly become indispensable tools for the polar research community, making diverse data sets readily available to researchers. However, ice penetrating radar is a major category of data that is not currently supported ? it is possible to see the locations of existing survey lines, and the ice thickness maps that have been interpreted from their data, but it is not readily possible to see the radargrams themselves in context with all of the other information. This capability is important because there is far more visual information contained in a radargram than simply its interpreted basal elevation or ice thickness. This project is developing software that will enable researchers to to view radargram images and interpreted surface and basal horizons in context with the existing map-view datasets in Quantarctica and QGreenland. A data layer shows the locations of all known ice penetrating radar surveys, color-coded based on availability. This layer enables data discovery and browsing. The plugin itself interacts with the data layer, first to download selected data, then to visualize the radargrams along with a cursor that moves simultaneously along the radargram and along the map view, making it straightforward to determine the precise geolocation of radar features.
Person Role
Lindzey, Laura Investigator and contact
Polar Cyberinfrastructure Award # 2209726
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
2 (derived data)
Platforms and Instruments

This project has been viewed 2 times since May 2019 (based on unique date-IP combinations)