The implementation of radar technology has brought about an increase in safety to the team of scientists and engineers at EGRIP by providing 24/7 situational awareness of the camp, the perimeter and the extended perimeter of more than three kilometres.
SharpEye֭™ SxV is a small radome enclosed solid state radar providing superior detection performance of difficult to detect targets in the harshest environments. At EGRIP the radar is mounted on the top of the operations dome and is operational in temperatures as low as minus 30°C.
The East Greenland Ice-core Project aims to retrieve an ice core by drilling through the Northeast Greenland ice stream. Ice streams are responsible for draining a significant amount of the ice from the Greenland ice sheet. The EGRIP international project hopes to gain new and fundamental information on ice stream dynamics, thereby improving the understanding of how ice streams will contribute to future sea-level change. The drilled core will also provide a new record of past climatic conditions from the North Eastern part of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
The camp team is between ten and forty people working on the ice sheet, which is an area with few visual reference points. During whiteout conditions the visibility and contrast is low, and navigation is difficult.
The SharpEye™ radar in conjunction with the Kelvin Hughes CxEye™ radar software provides a 360° extended perimeter. The software enables active and non-active alarm zones to be set up whereby movements within the camp does not trigger an alarm, however, the target tracking information is recorded and can be played back if required. The camp area has been defined in a 2.2 kilometre circle where alarm triggers are not active, while any movement in the ring between 2.2 and 3.5 kilometres away from the main dome triggers an alarm and sends a text message to the responsible person in camp automatically with position, velocity and direction information. This enables quick assessment of any issues or unexpected movements that may need investigating on the radar software including an approaching polar bear.
Crucially SharpEye™ SxV is an important addition to the Search and Rescue (SAR) capability to such an environment i.e. an open and sparse but potentially difficult area to monitor the whereabouts of people.
Bo Vinther (Associate Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen, and Field Leader at EGRIP) said: “The SharpEye™ SxV system at EGRIP is configured to transmit alarms to a portable device. This combination gives an additional layer of safety in the EGRIP camp, without dedicating personnel to monitor a radar screen. Crucially camp is promptly informed of personnel unexpectedly leaving the vicinity of camp in poor visibility. This enables the Field Leader to launch SAR in a timely manner, and use radar guidance directing the SAR effort to personnel in need. Furthermore, camp will have warning in the rare case of a polar bear encounter”.
As the radar information is recorded, if someone becomes lost or missing especially in low visibility conditions, even if they are not moving, the last known position can be identified quickly and easily and the GPS location information can be provided or a search party can be guided in. Tests conducted at EGRIP enabled chocolate bars to be located by a search team after these where placed by another person 2.1 kilometres away.
Further tests at EGRIP have shown the radar to reliably detect crawling persons at 1 kilometre, a person walking at 3.4 kilometers, and approaching Hercules and Twin Otter Aeroplanes at 16km, and that tracking performance was independant of the weather conditions. I.E drifting snow and high winds.
Mark Bown Group Marketing Manager at Kelvin Hughes said:“This performance is testament to the unique combination of Doppler processing, pulse compression and Moving Target Detection (MTD) techniques employed by the SharpEye™ system that provides the ability to detect small or low Radar Cross Section (RCS) targets in severe weather conditions at longer ranges than other similar approaches to radar design”.
The radar is planned to be used every field season between April/May to August for the next four years.