Dual Frequency Radar Altimetry-Measuring Greenland Firn Properties from Space

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For the last eight years, the ESA CryoSat-2 Ku-band radar altimeter has been measuring the elevation of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Ku-band enables surface penetration at firn covered areas, which hampers the direct interpretation of surface elevation change from Cryosat-2 and other Ku-band altimeters. However, mapping the changes in penetration depth can provide
information on firn stratigraphy. If the physical surface (snow/air interface) of the ice sheet can be determined from an independent source, the differences in the two surfaces may directly be linked to the penetration depth of Ku-band radar altimetry, and hence to the temperature and density of the upper firn. Here, we use independent estimates of the surface elevation changes from the Ka-band radar altimeter (AltiKa) operated onboard the French/Indian satellite SARAL. The higher frequency of Ka-band reduces surface penetration to a minimum and combining the records from both Ku- and Ka-band satellites are the key to utilizing the full potential of CryoSat-2. Hence, providing both high spatial-resolution surface elevation change
and insights into changes in firn properties. The interpretation of dual-frequency altimetry is supported by firn modeling. The model has previously been applied to gain mass balance from ICESat and is now updated with a conceptual model for Ku-band radar penetration. Ultimately, a dual-band radar altimeter operating from space may provide ice sheet wide measurements of firn densities, a key parameter in determining direct ice mass balance from satellite altimetry.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event25 years of progress in radar altimetry symposium - , Portugal
Duration: 24 Sep 201829 Sep 2018

Conference

Conference25 years of progress in radar altimetry symposium
CountryPortugal
Period24/09/201829/09/2018

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