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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Day 28 - June 2 2006

This was another beautiful, warm, still day. It was so warm that we had to shed layers all the way down to our shirts in order to keep from overheating as we worked. We finished setting up the accumulation radar and ran some tests in preparation for mapping. This took the better part of the day. The accumulation radar will give high resolution information on the annual ice layers down to about 200 m where the firn is compacted into solid ice. Below that depth, the ice is essentially transparent to both the visible light and the microwave wavelengths the radar uses, hence there is little reflection. While we were assembling the radar system, we heard a noise in the sky and looked up in time to catch a beautiful snowy white bird flying just overhead, inspecting us and the camp closely. We debated what kind of bird it might be. A gull? An Arctic tern? In the end, even with the help of the Internet, we decided we did not know what it was.

Claude manning the accumulation radar keyboard and display

The tests were completed by midafternoon and we began the process of mapping the 3 km by 3 km square grid. We started by mapping 3 crosslines of 3 km each, spaced 1.5 km apart, centered on the drill site. As we approached the drill dome on the center crossline, we paused for one minute every 50 m or so in an effort to collect more radar echo/return information and provide even better resolution of the annual layers. After that, we focused our attention on the main grid and ran tracks at right angles to the cross lines. Here the planned tracks were separated by 100 m, meaning that we had a total of 31 lines to map across the 3 km span of the grid. This should give us good coverage of the area around the drill site and representation of total annual accumulation on the Flade Isblink ice dome, as well as data on the variability in accumulation from point to point and year to year. We mapped 3 1/2 lines before it was time to call it a day and return to camp for dinner.

Picnicking outside on a warm day (left to right: Dennis, Sverrir, JP, Lars, Simon and Steffan)

When we got back to camp, we learned that the drilling crew had reached 67 m depth. This evening it was Simon's turn to fix dinner and he had prepared spaghetti and meatballs.

Skidoo and sled reconfigured with accumulation radar and Vivaldi antennas


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