Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

 IU Trident Indiana University

Cyberinfrastructure Enables Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets

Campus Bridging and Research Infrastructure, Systems Group, UITS Research Technologies

High Performance File Systems, Systems Group, UITS Research Technologies

Collecting Data in Antarctica
Figure . Field engineer from Indiana University collecting radar data in Antarctica

A partnership between the University of Kansas and Indiana University is enabling the study of land and sea ice in the Earth’s polar regions. Radar data collected by the University of Kansas is stored and processed on high performance storage and computing systems at Indiana University. The results contribute to the understanding of ice and its behavior at the poles.

The ice at the Earth’s poles is in constant motion. The best way to understand and measure the characteristics and movement of polar ice is from an airborne science platform.  For five years, Indiana University has partnered with radar experts from the University of Kansas to fly over polar regions collecting radar measurements. These measurements help scientists understand the complex interaction of the land and ice. 

The amount of data collected is a challenge to manage. Each flight can generate up to 4 Terabytes of data. Engineers from Indiana University travel to the field to collect data on each flight, make several copies for backups, and enable near real-time processing of the data in the field. Data collected on the plane is stored on the Forward Observer, a system developed by Indiana University to safely and reliably collect instrument data in challenging environments. The Forward Observer permits the Kansas radar team to collect data and process the radar signals to see the shape of the bedrock as the plane passes over the ice sheet.  Once the data return home, the entire season is made available at Indiana University on high performance storage for processing on supercomputers.

Data collected by the University of Kansas with support from Indiana University is contributing to the understanding of the bedrock beneath Greenland and Antarctica. Indiana University’s cyberinfrastructure is critical to the processing of this data, from the initial capture to the final processing.

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Geosciences (302) Geology/Earth Science

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) Data Warehousing