Fast 3D ground penetrating radar simulations for glaciers

J. Hunziker*, E. C. Slob, J. Irving

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Modeling ground penetrating radar (GPR) reflection data on glaciers with methods that require the discretization of the full subsurface domain is extremely computationally expensive because of the combination of a large domain size and the comparatively short wavelength of the signal. To address this issue, we build on and extend a previously proposed approach based on the assumption of a homogeneous background medium (ice) in which various scattering objects (e.g., crevasses, channels, boulders) are embedded far from each other such that multiple scattering can be ignored. The glacier bed, below which no scatterers are assumed to exist, represents the lower limit of the modeling domain. With this method, the two-way propagation of the radar waves through the ice is simulated in a semi-analytical way, whereby scattering surfaces are represented with a set of planar elements of different electric and reflective properties, allowing a wide range of objects to be simulated. As we also take the antenna radiation pattern at the air-ice interface into account, this simple algorithm is able to produce realistic 3D GPR data in a fast and memory efficient way. In this study, we validate the presented algorithm with an analytical solution for a layered model, and we simulate radar data for a model of the Otemma glacier in Switzerland featuring a realistic topography of the glacier bed and a subglacial channel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105320
JournalComputers and Geosciences
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Glaciology
  • Ground penetrating radar (GPR)
  • Numerical simulation


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