Basal Ice Imaging Radar

A Planned Response to the NASA VENTURES Program

3-d topography of the ice sheet base at a location east of Camp Century, Greenland


The flow of ice from the interior of the great polar ice sheets to the sea is determined in part by four primary boundary conditions.  At the upper surface, accumulation and melt determines the surface mass flux.  The surface slope plays a role in driving ice sheet spreading.  Along lateral flow boundaries, shearing forces retard downstream flow.  Finally, melting and freezing at the base contribute to the total mass flux.  Also at the bed, longitudinal forces set up by changes in bottom topography and variations in basal drag associated with varying amounts of basal water are believed to play primary roles in the motion of the most dynamics parts of the ice sheet.  Conditions at the bed of the ice sheet are least known, where for example in East Antarctica, even basic information on ice thickness is largely absent. 


The primary goal of the Basal Ice Imaging Radar (BIIR) is to obtain detailed, 3-dimensional imagery of the base of the ice sheets.  This information is a basic ingredient to ice sheet models that attempt to predict the future behavior of the ice sheets, their response to a changing climate, and their current and future contributions to global sea level rise.  BIIR will build on technical success of the GISMO project which showed how UHF/VHF airborne data can be processed to create three-dimensional images of the ice sheet surface and bed. 




Kenneth Jezek

1090 Carmack Road

Columbus, OH


To Contact BIIR Team:

Phone: 614 292 7973

Fax: 614 292 4697