In February 2011, the Polarimetric Airborne Radar Ice Sounder (POLARIS) was flown in Antarctica in order to assess the feasibility of a potential space-based radar ice sounding mission. The campaign has demonstrated that the basal return is detectable in areas with up to 3 km thick cold ice, in areas with up to several hundred meters thick warm shelf ice, and in areas with up to 700 m thick crevassed glacier ice. However, major gaps in the basal return are observed, presumably due to excessive absorption, scattering from ice inclusions in the firn, low basal reflectivity, and the masking effect of the surface clutter. Internal layers are observed down to depths exceeding 2 km. The polarimetric data show that the internal layers are strongly anisotropic at a ridge, where the ice flow is supposed to be highly unidirectional. In case of space-based ice sounding, the antenna pattern cannot offer sufficient surface clutter suppression, but improved clutter suppression has been demonstrated with novel multi-phase-center techniques.
Ieee International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium Proceedings, 2012, p. 1561-1564