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Article

Low Cost and Compact FMCW 24 GHz Radar Applications for Snowpack and Ice Thickness Measurements

1
Centre d’Applications et de Recherches en Télédétection (CARTEL), Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada
2
Centre d’Études Nordiques, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
3
Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement (IGE), CNRS Université Grenoble Alpes, 38 058 Grenoble, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(14), 3909; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20143909
Received: 1 June 2020 / Revised: 7 July 2020 / Accepted: 9 July 2020 / Published: 14 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
Monitoring the evolution of snow on the ground and lake ice—two of the most important components of the changing northern environment—is essential. In this paper, we describe a lightweight, compact and autonomous 24 GHz frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) radar system for freshwater ice thickness and snow mass (snow water equivalent, SWE) measurements. Although FMCW radars have a long-established history, the novelty of this research lies in that we take advantage the availability of a new generation of low cost and low power requirement units that facilitates the monitoring of snow and ice at remote locations. Test performance (accuracy and limitations) is presented for five different applications, all using an automatic operating mode with improved signal processing: (1) In situ lake ice thickness measurements giving 2 cm accuracy up to ≈1 m ice thickness and a radar resolution of 4 cm; (2) remotely piloted aircraft-based lake ice thickness from low-altitude flight at 5 m; (3) in situ dry SWE measurements based on known snow depth, giving 13% accuracy (RMSE 20%) over boreal forest, subarctic taiga and Arctic tundra, with a measurement capability of up to 3 m in snowpack thickness; (4) continuous monitoring of surface snow density under particular Antarctic conditions; (5) continuous SWE monitoring through the winter with a synchronized and collocated snow depth sensor (ultrasonic or LiDAR sensor), giving 13.5% bias and 25 mm root mean square difference (RMSD) (10%) for dry snow. The need for detection processing for wet snow, which strongly absorbs radar signals, is discussed. An appendix provides 24 GHz simulated effective refractive index and penetration depth as a function of a wide range of density, temperature and wetness for ice and snow. View Full-Text
Keywords: Frequency-Modulated Continuous-Wave (FMCW) radar; lake ice thickness; snow water equivalent; snow density; snow wetness; snow monitoring; snow boreal forest; subarctic snow taiga; Arctic snow tundra; Antarctica Frequency-Modulated Continuous-Wave (FMCW) radar; lake ice thickness; snow water equivalent; snow density; snow wetness; snow monitoring; snow boreal forest; subarctic snow taiga; Arctic snow tundra; Antarctica
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pomerleau, P.; Royer, A.; Langlois, A.; Cliche, P.; Courtemanche, B.; Madore, J.-B.; Picard, G.; Lefebvre, É. Low Cost and Compact FMCW 24 GHz Radar Applications for Snowpack and Ice Thickness Measurements. Sensors 2020, 20, 3909. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20143909

AMA Style

Pomerleau P, Royer A, Langlois A, Cliche P, Courtemanche B, Madore J-B, Picard G, Lefebvre É. Low Cost and Compact FMCW 24 GHz Radar Applications for Snowpack and Ice Thickness Measurements. Sensors. 2020; 20(14):3909. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20143909

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pomerleau, Patrick, Alain Royer, Alexandre Langlois, Patrick Cliche, Bruno Courtemanche, Jean-Benoît Madore, Ghislain Picard, and Éric Lefebvre. 2020. "Low Cost and Compact FMCW 24 GHz Radar Applications for Snowpack and Ice Thickness Measurements" Sensors 20, no. 14: 3909. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20143909

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