Sounding the Antarctic ice sheet from space: a feasibility study based on airborne P-band radar data
Space-based radio echo sounding of the continental ice sheets can potentially provide full coverage with uniform sampling and data quality as well as detection of change in environmentally sensitive areas. This paper addresses the feasibility of sounding the Antarctic ice sheets with a space-based P-band radar. The assessment firstly makes use of an electromagnetic model of the ice sheets where the key model parameters are determined from data that have been acquired in Antarctica with an airborne P-band ice sounding radar. The performance of a space-based radar with a nadir-looking geometry but otherwise similar to ESA's Biomass SAR, is then simulated for a set of Antarctic scenarios that are defined based on the statistics of key ice regions. It is found that in about 2/3 of the simulation scenarios clutter and/or thermal noise will obscure the echo from the ice bed.