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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 17, 2024
  2. Over the past decade, a series of airborne experiments in the Arctic and Antarctica explored microwave emission from sea ice and ice sheets at frequencies from 0.5 to 2 GHz. The experiments were motivated by the fact that lower frequencies penetrate deeper into a frozen surface, thus offering the possibility to measure physical temperatures at great depths in ice sheets and, subsequently, other unique geophysical observables including sea ice salinity. These experiments were made feasible by recent engineering advances in electronics, antenna design, and noise removal algorithms when operating outside of protected bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. These technical advances permit a new type of radiometer that not only operates at low frequency, but also obtains continuous spectral information over the band from 0.5 to 2 GHz. Spectral measurements facilitate an understanding of the physical processes controlling emission and also support the interpretation of results from single frequency instruments. This paper reviews the development of low-frequency, wide band radiometry and its application to cryosphere science over the past 10 years. The paper summarizes the engineering design of an airborne instrument and the associated algorithms to mitigate radio frequency interference. Theoretical models of emission built around the morphologic and electrical properties of cryospheric components are also described that identify the dominant physical processes contributing to emission spectra. New inversion techniques for geophysical parameter retrieval are summarized for both Arctic and Antarctic scenarios. Examples that illustrate how the measurements are used to inform on glaciological problems are presented. The paper concludes with a description of new instrument concepts that are foreseen to extend the technology into operation from space. 
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  3. Abstract X-ray bursts are among the brightest stellar objects frequently observed in the sky by space-based telescopes. A type-I X-ray burst is understood as a violent thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a neutron star, accreting matter from a companion star in a binary system. The bursts are powered by a nuclear reaction sequence known as the rapid proton capture process (rp process), which involves hundreds of exotic neutron-deficient nuclides. At so-called waiting-point nuclides, the process stalls until a slower β + decay enables a bypass. One of the handful of rp process waiting-point nuclides is 64 Ge, which plays a decisive role in matter flow and therefore the produced X-ray flux. Here we report precision measurements of the masses of 63 Ge, 64,65 As and 66,67 Se—the relevant nuclear masses around the waiting-point 64 Ge—and use them as inputs for X-ray burst model calculations. We obtain the X-ray burst light curve to constrain the neutron-star compactness, and suggest that the distance to the X-ray burster GS 1826–24 needs to be increased by about 6.5% to match astronomical observations. The nucleosynthesis results affect the thermal structure of accreting neutron stars, which will subsequently modify the calculations of associated observables. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. A* is a classic and popular method for graphs search and path finding. It assumes the existence of a heuristic function h(u,t) that estimates the shortest distance from any input node u to the destination t. Traditionally, heuristics have been handcrafted by domain experts. However, over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in learning heuristic functions. Such learned heuristics estimate the distance between given nodes based on "features" of those nodes. In this paper we formalize and initiate the study of such feature-based heuristics. In particular, we consider heuristics induced by norm embeddings and distance labeling schemes, and provide lower bounds for the tradeoffs between the number of dimensions or bits used to represent each graph node, and the running time of the A* algorithm. We also show that, under natural assumptions, our lower bounds are almost optimal. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Intermittent floodplain channels are low‐relief conduits etched into the floodplain surface and remain dry much of the year. These channels comprise expansive systems and are important because during low‐level inundation they facilitate lateral hydraulic connectivity throughout the floodplain. Nevertheless, few studies have focused on these floodplain channels due to uncertainty in how to identify and characterize these systems in digital elevation models (DEMs). In particular, their automatic extraction from widely available DEMs is challenging due to the characteristically low‐relief and low‐gradient topography of floodplains. We applied three channel extraction approaches to the Congaree River floodplain DEM and compared the results to a channel reference map created through numerous field excursions over the past 30 years. The methods that we tested are based on flow accumulation area, topographic curvature, and mathematical morphology, or the D8, Laplacian, and bottom‐hat transform (BHT), respectively. Of the 198 km of reference channels the BHT, Laplacian, and D8 extracted 83%, 71%, and 23%, respectively, and the BHT consistently had the highest agreement with the reference network at the local (5 m) and regional (10 km) scales. The extraction results also include commission “error”, augmenting the reference map with about 100 km of channel length. Overall, the BHT method provided the best results for channel extraction, giving over 298 km in 69 km2 with a detrended regional relief of 1.9 m. Further, these analyses allow us to shed light on the meaning and use of the term “low‐relief landscapes”. 
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