Item: Avalanche victim search by ground penetrating radar
Title: Avalanche victim search by ground penetrating radar
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2004 International Snow Science Workshop, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Authors: Christian Jaedicke, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, Norway
Abstract: Ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems are used in many applications of snow and ice research. The information from the GPR is used to identify and interpret layers, objects and different structures in the snow. A commercially available GPR system was developed to work in the rough environment of snow and ice. The applied GPR is a 900 MHz system that easily reaches snow depths of ten meters. The system was calibrated in the course of several manual snow depth measurement surveys. The depth resolution is depending on the snow type and ranges around +/- 0.1 m. The GPR system is carried along a line of interest and is triggered by an odometer wheel at regular, adjustable intervals. The equipment is mounted in a sledge and is pulled by a snow mobile over the snow surface. This setup allows for efficient coverage of several kilometers of terrain profiles. The radar profiles give a real-time, twodimensional impression of structures and objects and the interface between snow and underlying ground. The actual radar profile is shown on a screen on the sledge allowing the immediate marking of objects and structures by the operator. During the past three years the instrument was successfully used for the study of snow distributions and to search for avalanche victims in avalanche debris. The results show the capability of the instrument to detect persons and objects buried by snow. In the future, this device may be new a tool for avalanche rescue operations. Today, the size and weight of the system prevents accessing very steep slopes and areas not accessible by snowmobiles. Further developments will decrease the size of the system and make it applicable as a handheld search device in avalanches.
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Keywords: ground penetrating radar (gpr), snow avalanches, search and rescue
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