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Direct measurement of optical properties of glacier ice using a photon-counting diffuse LiDAR

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posted on 2023-01-12, 14:54 authored by Markus Allgaier, Matthew G. Cooper, Anders E. Carlson, Sarah W. Cooley, Jonathan C. Ryan, Brian J. Smith
The production of meltwater from glacier ice, which is exposed at the margins of land ice during the summer, is responsible for a large proportion of glacier mass loss. The rate of meltwater production from glacier ice is especially sensitive to its physical structure and chemical composition which combine to determine the albedo of glacier ice. However, the optical properties of near-surface glacier ice are not well known since most prior work has focused on ice made in the laboratory or from deep cores. Here, we demonstrate a measurement technique based on diffuse propagation of nanosecond-duration laser pulses in near-surface glacier ice that enables the independent measurement of the scattering and absorption coefficients, allowing for a complete description of the processes governing radiative transfer. We employ a photon-counting detector to overcome the high losses associated with diffuse optics. The instrument is highly portable and rugged, making it optimally suited for deployment in remote regions. A set of measurements taken on Collier Glacier, Oregon, serves as a demonstration of the technique. These measurements provide insight into both physical structure and composition of near-surface glacier ice and open new avenues for the analysis of light-absorbing impurities and remote sensing of the cryosphere.



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