Electromagnetic Properties of Ice

Ice is highly abundant on our planet and across the universe. We rely on the properties of ice everyday: from storing frozen goods in your freezer to ensuring sea levels remain at the present day level. Ice can form ice sheets and glaciers which flow under their own weight, creating new landscapes that are both beautiful and captivating.

I am interested in the physical properties of ice, how it influences Remote Sensing measurements and its affects on glacier dynamics. I actively working in the field of Radar Remote Sensing and am interested in how glacial ice scatters light and radiation. Understanding the electrical (dielectric) properties of ice at different frequencies allows us to develop new techniques to monitor glaciers. It may also be used to understand new glacial phenomena e.g. surface energy budgets, microbial communities on glacier surfaces and the snow/water content of glaciers.

Ice layers beneath the surface of Langjökull, Iceland.

The dielectric properties of any material describe its ability to store an electrical field. This is usually defined by the relative permittivity of a substance and can be used to characterise a materials reflectivity or scattering properties. I am currently researching how glacial ice scatters radiation at 94 GHz (~3 mm). This is a fundamental prerequisite to using millimetre wave radar to measure glaciers as it allows us to understand the power of the backscatter that glaciers reradiate. Results of this research are forthcoming and will be made available on this site when available.