Alaska Science Center

Ground Penetrating Radar on North American Glaciers

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) collected over the surface of a glacier provides high-resolution, spatially-extensive measurements of snow thickness and water content. This type of detailed, spatially-extensive dataset is rare, and is highly useful for a range of scientific and resource management purposes.


A better understanding of snow accumulation processes is vital to improved estimates of glacier mass balance. In turn, resolving physical and biological feedbacks and implications from glacier mass loss requires improved understanding of mass balance processes from local to regional scales. As part of the Benchmark Glacier Research Project, U.S. Geological Survey researchers collected ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data on glaciers spanning a broad range of climate conditions. The data presented here consist of both ground-based and airborne surveys, all of which are linked to coincident GPS observations. Most of the surveys presented here are common-offset profiles, but several common-midpoint surveys are delivered as well. Coincident in-situ data, consisting of snow pits and cores, probe profiles, and ablation stake observations, allows for calibration and validation of the GPR datasets, especially for determining radar wave speed.
Title Type
Raw Ground Penetrating Radar Data on North American GlaciersData
USGS Glacier StudiesProject Website
End-of-winter snow depth variability on glaciers in AlaskaPublication


O'Neel, Shad R., 907-786-7088

Status: onGoing
Start Year: 2012
End Year:

Project Sites

Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Alaska Pacific University
UAF - Geophysical Institute
University of Washington Seattle

Chenega Glacier
Columbia Glacier
Eagle Glacier
Eklutna Glacier
Eureka Glacier
Exit Glacier
Gilkey Glacier
Gulkana Glacier
Lake George Glacier
Lemon Creek Glacier
Maclaren Glacier
Matanuska Glacier
Nelchina Glacier
Norris Glacier
Scott Glacier
Surprise Glacier
Susitna Glacier
Taku Glacier
Tazlina Glacier
Valdez Glacier
West Fork Glacier
Wolverine Glacier
Yale Glacier

USGS Mission Area and Program
Land ResourcesClimate Research and Development

Cryosphere > Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Ablation Zones/Accumulation Zones
Cryosphere > Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glaciers
Spectral/Engineering > Radar > Radar Imagery