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An airborne snow-thickness RADAR for marine glaciology application

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 12:40 authored by Jan LieserJan Lieser, Jansen, PW

Snow on sea ice has a profound influence on the albedo of the ice covered ocean and the heat flux between ocean and atmosphere in the sea ice zone. Knowledge of the thickness of the snow cover on sea ice is also essential to compute sea ice thickness from altimeter data. Precise measurements of both, snow and sea ice thickness will allow for an assessment of the performance of numerical models of the physical polar environment. To estimate the thickness of the snow cover on sea ice over sufficiently large areas (tens of kilometres) space-borne instrumentation is required, for example the radar altimeter of CryoSat-2, or the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer AMSR-2. In-situ measurements of snow properties are essential to enable adequate calibration and validation of these satellite data products.

We present an airborne snow thickness RADAR deployed by the Australian Antarctic program in the East Antarctic sea ice zone. This instrument is used to bridge the gap between highly detailed/small scale (space and time) measurements of snow properties, including surface elevation (freeboard), and broad scale/resolution space-borne estimates. These will be used to improve the ice and snow thickness products from satellite laser and radar altimetry, which provide the necessary global coverage for monitoring large-scale change.


Publication title

Strategic Science in Antarctica conference program


Strategic Science in Antarctica Program Committee


Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctica New Zealand

Place of publication

Hobart, Australia

Event title

Strategic Science in Antarctica

Event Venue

Hobart, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)

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