This thesis works through the design of a radar-based system for imaging snowpacks remotely and over large areas to assist in avalanche prediction. The key to such a system is the ability to image volumes of snow at shallow, spatially-varying angles of incidence. To achieve this prerequisite, the design calls for a ground-based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capable of generating three-dimensional, ultra-high-resolution images of a snowpack. To arrive at design parameters for this SAR, the thesis works through relevant principles in avalanche mechanics, alpine-snowpack geophysics, and electromagnetic scattering theory. The thesis also works through principles of radar, SAR, antenna, and image processing theory to this end. A preliminary system is implemented to test the feasibility of the overall design. The preliminary system demonstrates ultra-high-resolution, three-dimensional imaging capabilities and the ability to image the volume of multiple alpine snowpacks. Images of these snowpacks display the structural patterns indicative of different layers in the snowpacks. Possible attributions of the patterns to physical properties in the snowpack are explored, but conclusions are not arrived at. Finally, lessons from the implementation of this preliminary system are discussed in terms of opportunities to be capitalized upon and problems to be overcome in future systems that more faithfully realize the complete design set forth in the thesis.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





ground-based SAR, utlra-high resolution, three-dimensional imaging, volume imaging, snowpack, avalanche