Tomographic Techniques for Radar Ice Sounding

Ulrik Nielsen

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

    792 Downloads (Pure)


    Low frequency radars, also known as sounders, can be used for subsurface measurements of Earth’s massive ice sheets. Radar data are essential to improving ice sheet models for better prediction of the response of these ice sheets to global climate change. While airborne sounders are needed for detailed measurements of fast-flowing outlet glaciers, a space-based sounder is potentially capable of broad coverage with high spatial and uniform sampling over the interior of the ice sheets. For both types of systems, however, surface clutter that obscures the depth signal of interest is a major technical challenge.
    This dissertation deals with tomographic techniques based on multiphase-center radars that represent state-of-the-art technology within the field of ice sounding. The use of advanced tomographic processing for clutter suppression is investigated, which up to this point has been largely unexplored in the literature. The investigation also includes a theoretical study of beam forming and direction-of-arrival (DOA) estimation techniques. In addition to the primary treatment of clutter suppression,additional novel applications of tomography are also explored.
    Based on an experimental multi-phase-center dataset acquired with the POLarimetric Airborne Radar Ice Sounder (POLARIS), single-pass tomographic surface clutter suppression capabilities are demonstrated for the system. Using repeat-pass POLARIS data, a method based on data-driven DOA estimation is used to show an along-track variation of the effective scattering center of the surface return, which is caused by a varying penetration depth.
    As an alternative to the traditional echogram, a new DOA representation that offers a better visualization of the desired signals and clutter is suggested. Based on this alternative presentation, a novel technique for discrimination of the desired bed return from strong surface clutter is presented. The technique is applied to data from the channel of the challenging Jakobshavn Glacier acquired with the Multi-channel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder/Imager (MCoRDS/I), where it is shown how the technique can be used to close some of the critical gaps in bed detection along the channel.
    Finally, a geometric model is used to show how the across-track slope of the bed is related to the DOA pattern of the bed return. Based on this, a technique for estimation of the backscattering characteristics is presented. Furthermore, waveform analysis is investigated for estimation of the bed roughness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
    PublisherDanmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
    Number of pages188
    ISBN (Print)978-87-91694-24-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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