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Connecting airborne Ku-band radar measurements to surface-based measurements: Integrating data from ASIRAS, VHB, and physical property measurements from Greenland and Svalbard


Airborne observations can extend the reach of ground-based campaigns measuring spatial variability of snow properties. We introduce the European Space Agency’s Airborne Synthetic aperture Interferometric Radar Altimetry System (ASIRAS), and discuss the penetration of its 13.5 GHz energy into polar firn and snow. We compare results from ASIRAS to physical property measurements in Greenland, Very High Bandwidth (VHB) radar measurements in Svalbard, and physical propetry measurements in both locations. Operating at 1 GHz bandwidth, ASIRAS can penetrate as much as 11 m into polar firn, and has detected annually-occurring density horizons in the dry-snow zone of Greenland. On Austfonna and Kongsvagen in Svalbard, ASIRAS detects the Last Summer Surface (LSS), allowing measurements of winter accumulation. These measurements allow us to examine the nature of the subsurface reflections detected by ASIRAS.