Continuous profiles of electromagnetic wave velocity and water content in glaciers: An example from Bench Glacier, Alaska, USA

John H. Bradford, Joshua Nichols, T. Dylan Mikesell, Joel T. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We conducted two-dimensional continuous multi-offset georadar surveys on Bench Glacier, south-central Alaska, USA, to measure the distribution of englacial water. We acquired data with a multichannel 25 MHz radar system using transmitter-receiver offsets ranging from 5 to 150 m. We towed the radar system at 5-10 km h-1 with a snow machine with transmitter/receiver positions established by geodetic-grade kinematic differentially corrected GPS (nominal 0.5 m trace spacing). For radar velocity analyses, we employed reflection tomography in the pre-stack depth-migrated domain to attain an estimated 2% velocity uncertainty when averaged over three to five wavelengths. We estimated water content from the velocity structure using the complex refractive index method equation and use a three-phase model (ice, water, air) that accounts for compression of air bubbles as a function of depth. Our analysis produced laterally continuous profiles of glacier water content over several kilometers. These profiles show a laterally variable, stratified velocity structure with a low-watercontent (∼0-0.5%) shallow layer (∼20-30m) underlain by high-water-content (1-2.5%) ice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Volume50
Issue number51
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

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