The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) is a Science and Technology Center established by the NSF in 2005, with the mission of developing new technologies and computer models to measure and predict the response of sea level change to the mass balance of ice sheets in Polar Regions.


CReSIS comprises six academic partner institutions, with the headquarters located at the University of Kansas, which is the lead institution.  The other academic partner institutions are Elizabeth City State University, The Pennsylvania State University, Indiana University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Washington, and the Association of Computer and Information Science Engineering Departments at Minority Institutions.  In addition to this core group, CReSIS collaborates with several international institutions and industry partners.  For scientists worldwide, CReSIS is a primary source of data on polar ice sheet thickness and other properties. The development of Sensors and Platforms for Manned and Unmanned Cryospheric Remote Sensing enhance KU’s role at the forefront of the global climate change research.



Researchers at the NSF-supported Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) have developed a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) called Meridian that is designed to enable extensive remote sensing surveys over isolated areas of Greenland and Antarctica.  The base design requirements called for a portable aircraft capable of carrying a variety of payloads for missions from remote base camps in Antarctica and Greenland.  This translated into requirements for a rugged, modular aircraft with removable wings that can be assembled in minimum time in the field.  Aircraft rigidity constraints for the wing-mounted sensors and takeoff weight versus range performance lead to an aircraft of predominantly bonded carbon/epoxy composites. With a primary scientific payload of an ice-penetrating radar, the Meridian UAS will enable fine-scale mapping of ice thickness, internal layers, bed topography, and basal conditions. Meridian is particularly well-suited for survey areas that require long transit flights, close survey line spacing, and operation at low altitudes.  The Meridian weighs 1,100 lbs, has a 26-foot wingspan, and a range of 950nm at the full 120 lbs payload capacity.  Although the vehicle has been designed to optimize ice penetrating radar performance, additional payloads and sensors have also driven design to ensure ready adaptation to multi-mission science driven payloads.

We have also developed and operate the G1X UAS which is an 85lb, 17-foot wingspan vehicle with a range of approximately 60 nm per gallon of fuel. The aircraft can be configured with either wheels or skis; recent field trials in Antarctica were all on skis. The primary payload for this aircraft has been a dual frequency HF/VHF radar depth sounder, to enable sounding of ice in fast flowing glaciers.

University of Kansas faculty collaborators have effectively embedded immersive research experiences for all undergraduate students in aerospace engineering, with at least seventeen courses using Meridian and G1X UAS development as the basis for design projects, homework and examination content. Composite design, analysis and fabrication efforts address interdisciplinary design requirements for radar, aerodynamic, aircraft and structural performance, often requiring trades between physical and mechanical properties inherent in different classes of fiber reinforced materials. The wing mounted Vivaldi ice penetrating radar antennas, for instance, are layers of glass/epoxy, copper and carbon/epoxy designed to transmit and receive broadband VHF signals while maintaining displacement and modal excitation limits.

  • Emily Arnold (Airborne platform sensor integration, aircraft integration effects on these sensors)
  • Haiyang Chao (Low-cost micro UAS development wind estimation filter design)
  • Mark Ewing (Structural dynamics, structural acoustics of high performance light-weight structures)
  • Richard Hale (Application of composite design, analysis, fabrication, and field testing)
  • Shawn Keshmiri (Flight dynamics, flight control, flight test engineering)

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