The Antarctic continent is a frozen landscape of snow and sleet, but a new map from NASA exposes what the region would look like if all the ice were to disappear.
NASA released an animation this week revealing what lies beneath the planet’s largest ice sheet. It’s based on new data compiled by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey over the last two decades, including surface elevation readings and ice thickness data measured with ice-penetrating radar.
The result is Bedmap2, an updated map of the continent using 15 million additional measurements since 2001. It provides a clearer picture of the terrain underneath the ice, including surface and sub-ice features that were too small to be seen in previous measurements.
"Before we had a regional overview of the topography, but this new map, with its much higher resolution, shows the landscape itself; a complex landscape of mountains, hills and rolling plains, dissected by valleys troughs and deep gorges," Peter Fretwell, from the British Antarctic Survey, said in a release.
The study was recently published in the journal The Cryosphere.
The researchers discovered that Antarctica's average bedrock depth, deepest point and ice thickness are greater than previously thought.
The findings will give researchers a better understanding of the continent's landscape and ice sheet as well as the influence it has on the climate and the surrounding oceans.