Validation of Glacier Topographic Acquisitions From an Airborne Single-Pass Interferometer

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Aug 26;19(17):3700. doi: 10.3390/s19173700.


The airborne glacier and ice surface topography interferometer (GLISTIN-A) is a single-pass radar interferometer developed for accurate high-resolution swath mapping of dynamic ice surfaces. We present the first validation results of the operational sensor, collected in 2013 over glaciers in Alaska and followed by more exhaustive collections from Greenland in 2016 and 2017. In Alaska, overlapping flight-tracks were mosaicked to mitigate potential residual trends across-track and the resultant maps are validated with lidar. Furthermore, repeat acquisitions of Columbia Glacier collected with a three day separation indicate excellent stability and repeatability. Commencing 2016, GLISTIN-A has circumnavigated Greenland for 4 consecutive years. Due to flight hour limitations, overlapping swaths were not flown. In 2016, comparison with airborne lidar data finds that residual systematic errors exhibit evenly distributed small slopes (all less than 10 millidegrees) and nadir biases were typically less than 1 m. Similarly 2017 data exhibited up to meter-scale nadir biases and evenly distributed residual slopes with a standard deviation of ~10 millidegrees). All satisfied the science accuracy requirements of the Greenland campaigns (3 m accuracy across an 8 km swath).

Keywords: glacier; interferometry; topography.