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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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The radar signal is weaker in ice than in the air.

Picture of John Paden   Audio version (10.7 MB)  
Video version (18.3 MB) - mov format
Speaker: John Paden, graduate student, EECS, University of Kansas, 2002.

Modified Transcript: Ice attenuates the radar signal. If you have an FM station, which operates at about the frequencies that we will use, whose signal had to travel through ice instead of air, you would find that the radio waves wouldn't propagate nearly as far. Instead of being able to hear your radio station hundreds of kilometers away, you would have to be within a few kilometers of the radio station. So there is significant attenuation due to the ice.

In addition, the warmer the ice is, the more it dampens the signal. So we need to take our measurements as early in the summer as possible when the temperature is above negative forty degrees Celsius, but below zero degrees Celsius. This is probably the best time to be imaging with our radar because then the ice doesn't dampen the signal as much.


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