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On the Limitations of Using Polarimetric Radar Sounding to Infer the Crystal Orientation Fabric of Ice Masses

  • Rathmann, NM
  • Lilien, DA
  • Grinsted, A
  • Gerber, TA
  • Young, Tun
  • Dahl-Jensen, D
Publication Date
Oct 04, 2021
Apollo - University of Cambridge Repository
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Abstract: We introduce a transfer matrix model for radio‐wave propagation through layered anisotropic ice that permits an arbitrary dielectric permittivity tensor in each layer. The model is used to investigate how crystal orientation fabrics without a vertical principal direction affect polarimetric radar returns over glaciers and ice sheets. By expanding the c‐axis orientation distribution in terms of a spherical harmonic series, we find that radar returns from synthetic fabric profiles are relatively insensitive to the harmonic mode responsible for a nonvertical principal direction; however, only for normally incident waves. Consequently, the strength of this mode might be relatively difficult to infer in glaciers and ice sheets, which in turn has implications for the ability to determine the full second‐order structure tensor, needed to infer the local flow regime, flow history, or to represent the directional viscosity structure of glacier ice for ice‐flow modeling.

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