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Ice-flow-induced scattering zone within the Antarctic ice sheet revealed by high-frequency airborne radar

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To better understand how internal radar echoes depend on ice-flow conditions and radar polarization, we surveyed two basins in East Antarctica using 179 MHz airborne radar. We compared radar echoes from three ice-flow conditions: parallel sheet flow in the main stream of a basin, convergent flow towards an ice stream, and longitudinal compression by nunataks. We detected a distinct zone of high radar scattering several hundred meters thick at middle depths in the latter two regions. This high-scattering zone was detected only when the radar polarization plane was parallel to the compression axis in ice. Such a high-scattering zone was not found in the parallel-flow region, regardless of the polarization. Using a recently developed theory of radar scattering in ice, we interpret the high-scattering zone as being caused by crystal-orientation-fabric alternations among adjacent ice layers due to difference in horizontal strain components. We argue that the spatial variation of the high-scattering zone is crucial for understanding past and present flow features.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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