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KU Radars Play Role in Greenland Canyon Discovery

Friday, 30 August 2013 9:25 CDT

Researchers at the University of Kansas played a significant role in providing data that reveal the existence of a massive canyon buried under miles of ice in Greenland. The discovery appears in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

The article, authored by Jonathan Bamber at the University of Bristol in England, maps a previously unknown canyon in Greenland that is 470 miles long and twice as deep in places as the Grand Canyon.  Because the ice sheet is as much as two miles thick, it had gone unnoticed for millennia.

Prasad Gogineni, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Kansas and director of the NSF Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), said that data collected by radars developed at KU and used in earth science missions funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA over the past two decades were essential to researchers being able to reveal this geological feature.  Data collection has picked up in recent years with the KU designed Multichannel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder (MCoRDS), a critical instrument addition to NASA’s ongoing Operation IceBridge missions as well as to ongoing NSF polar studies.  Students, staff and faculty affiliated with CReSIS were involved in collecting and processing much of the data used in the research paper, and additional data products, Gogineni said.

CReSIS, which is headquartered at KU, develops ice-penetrating radars and unmanned aircraft to study changes in earth’s polar ice sheets.  The data collected by KU researchers and CReSIS partner institutions are used by KU and others around world to better predict climate change and the effect melting ice sheets have on sea level.

For more information about the discovery, go to the NASA news release.

For more information about CReSIS, visit their website.