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Sea Ice Thickness Penetrating Radar Instrument

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Make direct thickness measurements at fine scales (10s of meters) to better understand ice deformation physics, improve mapping of sea thickness distribution and estimates of impacts on sea ice due to climate change.


Demonstrated feasibility of using ultrawideband radar (0.1 to 1.2 GHz) to simultaneously detect top and bottom ice surfaces with high accuracy from ground-based system (vertical resolution ~25 cm over 10-30 m scales).

Click PDF of "Cold Regions Science and Technology" article.


Direct measurements eliminate assumptions required by ice elevation measurements, will lead to improved detection of thicker ice components and hence more complete ice thickness distribution maps at scales where deformation actually occurs.


  • Detection of ice bottom surface requires frequencies in the range of 0.1 to 0.3 GHz to overcome the high dielectric loss in complex scattering medium.
  • Detection of ice top surface is achieved with higher range of frequencies 0.8 to 1.2 GHz.
  • Utilization of wide radar bandwidth (0.1 - 1.2 GHz) enables fine vertical resolution.
  • Complementary sensors include laser altimeter (detects snow surface), snow radar (snow depth, 4-8 GHz) or radar altimeter (ice top surface).
Instrument Type:
Instrument Team: 
Ben Holt (PI)