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Synthetic aperture radar detection of the snowline on Commonwealth and Howard Glaciers,Taylor Valley, Antarctica

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Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of Taylor Valley, Antarctica, were acquired in January 1999 in coordination with ground-based measurements to assess SAR detection of the snowline on dry polar glaciers. We expected significant penetration of the radar wave resulting in an offset of the SAR-detected snowline relative to the true snowline. Results indicated no detectable displacement of the SAR snowline. Snow depths of 15 cm over ice can be detected on the imagery. We hypothesize that the optical depth of thin snowpacks is enhanced by reflection and refraction of the radar beam by internal snow layers. The enhanced optical depth increases the volume scattering, and thereby enhances backscatter sufficiently to be detected by the SAR. Consequently, SAR imagery may be used directly to image the position of transient snowlines in dry polar regions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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