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Radio-wave depolarization and scattering within ice sheets: a matrix-based model to link radar and ice-core measurements and its application

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Crystal-orientation fabric (COF) has a large influence on ice-sheet flow. Earlier radar studies have shown that COF-based birefringence occurs within ice sheets. Radio-wave scattering in polar ice results from changing physical properties of permittivity and conductivity that arise from differing values of density, acidity and COF. We present an improved mathematical model that can handle all these phenomena together. We use this matrix-based model to study the two-way propagation of depolarized radio waves that scatter at both isotropic and anisotropic boundaries. Based on numerical simulations, we demonstrate how COF affects the radar signals in terms of radar polarization and frequency. We then compare the simulated features with VHF radar data obtained at two contrasting inland sites in East Antarctica, where COF is known from ice-core studies. These two sites are Dome Fuji, located near a dome summit, and Mizuho, located in a converging ice-flow region. Data at Dome Fuji are dominated by typical features resulting from birefringence. In contrast, both birefringence and anisotropic scattering affect the radar data at Mizuho. We argue that radar methods can be used to determine principal axes and strength of birefringence in the ice sheets.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • 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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