New Map Peeks Under Antarctic Ice

July 11, 2013 · 0 comments

With data compiled from a number of satellite, aircraft, and surface-based surveys, the recently completed Bedmap2 project comprises three datasets to map the ice-covered continent of Antarctica: surface elevation, ice thickness, and bedrock topography. The new dataset updates 2001’s original Bedmap compilation with tighter grid spacing, millions of additional data points, and extensive use of GPS data—enhancements that have improved the dataset’s resolution, coverage, and precision. For example, it depicts many surface and sub-ice features that were too small to be visible in the original Bedmap. Data from Bedmap2 reveal that Antarctica’s average bedrock depth, deepest point, and ice thickness estimates are all greater than that recorded in the original Bedmap.

As outlined in the NASA video below, the updated information obtained from Bedmap2 should enhance currently limited data on the continent’s ice thickness and what is beneath the ice, which could help researchers better understand how Antarctica will respond to a changing climate. It also “will be an important resource for the next generation of ice sheet modelers, physical oceanographers, and structural geologists,” according to the British Antarctic Survey’s Peter Fretwell, lead author of a recently published article on Bedmap2 that appeared in The Cryosphere. The article and Bedmap2’s data can be accessed here.