The Continent of Antarctica is Stunningly Depicted by a New Map


Until now, we could say that we had a better view of Mars than of Antarctica, in terms of maps. That’s over now that scientists from the Ohio State University teamed up with those from the University of Minnesota in order to create a high-resolution map of Antarctica which is also the most accurate in existence.

The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) is the project on which these scientists worked and it required the creation of an accurate map. It represents the one with the highest resolution of the terrain, for any continent. As opposed to the typical maps, which required 1000 meters of resolution, this one has one of 2 to 8 meters.

The project’s head scientist, Ian Howat, said that “The map and associated images and data will change science in Antarctica, especially as it is updated. At this resolution, you can see almost everything. We can actually see variations in the snow in some places. We will be able to measure changes in the surface of the continent over time”.

Such accurate maps of the ground the ice is resting on are incredibly important for scientists to determine the stability of the massive ice sheets in Antarctica, especially the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which has been losing mass. To narrow the range of uncertainty when it comes to the future sea level rise resulting from the melting of the Antarctic ice, such improvements in mapping are necessary.

The start of the project required that photos were to be taken by polar-orbiting satellites, then the REMA project had to obtain programming from the Byrd Center, which prepares info on supercomputers. Howat said that “we had to start from scratch to build this. The software had to filter the data, process it, and turn it into a refined product for the scientific and broader community to use”.


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