Single-pass Airborne InSAR for Wide-swath, High-Resolution Cryospheric Surface Topography Mapping
Abstract:In May 2009 a mm-wave single-pass interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) for the first time demonstrated ice surface topography swath-mapping in Greenland. This was achieved with the airborne Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN-A). Ka-band (35.6GHz) was chosen for high-precision topographic mapping from a compact sensor with minimal surface penetration. In recent years, the system was comprehensively upgraded for improved performance, stability and calibration.
In April 2013, after completing the upgrades, GLISTIN-A flew a brief campaign to Alaska. The primary purpose was to demonstrate the InSAR’s ability to generate high-precision, high resolution maps of ice surface topography with swaths in excess of 10km. Comparison of GLISTIN-A’s elevations over glacial ice with lidar verified the precision requirements and established elevation accuracies to within 2 m without tie points. Feature tracking of crevasses on Columbia Glacier using data acquired with a 3-day separation exhibit an impressive velocity mapping capability.
Furthermore, GLISTIN-A flew over the Beaufort sea to determine if we could not only map sea ice, but also measure freeboard. Initial analysis has established we can measure sea-ice freeboard using height differences from the top of the sea-ice and the sea surface in open leads. In the future, a campaign with lidar is desired for a quantitative validation.
Another proof-of-concept collection mapped snow-basins for hydrology. Snow depth measurements using summer and winter collections in the Sierras were compared with lidar measurements. Unsurprisingly when present, trees complicate the interpretation, but additional filtering and processing is in work.
For each application, knowledge of the interferometric penetration is important for scientific interpretation. We present analytical predictions and experimental data to upper bound the elevation bias of the InSAR measurements over snow and snow-covered ice.