Monday, 18 April 2011

Surveying snow

This post will be trying to explain why I'm here, and my PhD topic! If you don't like science, just look at the pictures.

To start off with, here's one of the Arctic wolves from the pack living around the base:

The Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) that we are operating here is a very useful instrument for studying radar penetration on a small scale. Here's Katharine using it and investigating the snow beneath:

The idea behind our data collection is to look at radar penetration on different scales to build up an idea of what CryoSat-2 will see from space.

The area on the ground that a radar surveys is known as its footprint - Katharine gave me a good analogy of a light shining down onto the ground and the wider the beam, or further from the ground, the bigger the footprint. CryoSat-2 has a footprint of around a kilometer, the footprint of the ASIRAS airborne radar altimeter is around 15 m and the footprint of the GPR is around 1 m. The small footprint of the GPR means that we can thoroughly survey the snow and ice in the footprint to relate what the radar sees to what the
snow really looks like.

We took data at the North, South and Fast Ice sites as planned which is great.

I've been trying to use IR photography to look at the snow structure, and here is a happy accident photo of our colleague Stefan Hendricks whose Arctic clothing seems to be very reflective in the infrared:

And finally, my view towards 'home' as we skidoo back from the Fast Ice site - hopefully you can just make out the buildings on the right.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant photos, looks absolutely spectacular - hope you're having a good time.

    My favourite bit of science is the footprint bit, closely followed by the word ASIRAS.