From glacier facies to SAR backscatter zones via GPR

From glacier facies to SAR backscatter zones via GPR

Institute: 
Norut
Type of publication: 
Periodical
Publication channel: 
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Year: 
2008
Volume: 
46

We present a comparison between data acquired with frequency-modulated ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Both radars are polarimetric and operate at a center frequency of 5.3 GHz. The field site is the polythermal glacier Kongsvegen, Svalbard. Along glacier GPR profiles cover the ablation area and the accumulation area, where the latter consists of superimposed ice (SI) and firn. The glacier facies are clearly identifiable on the GPR profiles, although we show that the copolarized response is better for distinguishing different ice zones, whereas the SI-firn boundary is most obvious in the cross-polarized response. A calibrated backscatter coefficient is calculated for the GPR data and compared with the SAR backscatter coefficient. The SAR zones are in very good agreement with the GPR-derived glacier facies. We show that, in the ablation area, the SAR response is dominated by backscatter from the previous summer surface. In the SI and firn areas, it is dominated by sources below the previous summer surface.