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Antarctic Mountains With and Without Ice

Buried under miles of ice, Antarctica’s mysterious mountain ranges are coming into sharper focus thanks to a new map.

Created by the British Antarctic Survey, Bedmap2 drew upon millions of new measurements of the frozen continent’s surface elevation, ice thickness, and bedrock topography from a wide variety of sources collected over several decades.

Due to technological advances, Bedmap2 is also higher in resolution, more precise, and covers more of the continent than the original Bedmap, produced more than ten years ago, according to Charles Webb, deputy program scientist for cryospheric sciences at NASA headquarters. Earth’s frozen regions are collectively called the cryosphere.

For example, the original Bedmap relied mostly on ground-based measurements, which limited the scientists in terms of how much land they could cover, Webb noted.

Scientists have produced the most detailed map yet of the White Continent’s underbelly - its rock bed.

Called simply BEDMAP, this startling view of the landscape beneath the ice incorporates decades of survey data acquired by planes, satellites, ships and even people on dog-drawn sleds. It is remarkable to think that less than 1% of this rock base projects above the continent’s frozen veil.

In the map at the top of this page, the highest elevations are marked in red/black. The light blue colour shows the extent of the continental shelf.

Scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have produced the most detailed map of underneath Antarctica — its rock bed.

BEDMAP is a close-up view of the landscape beneath the Antarctic icesheet and incorporates decades of survey data acquired by planes, satellites, ships and even researchers on dog-drawn sleds.

Dr Hamish Pritchard from BAS is presenting the new imagery today (Monday 5 December) to the 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth and planetary scientists.
Read more about Antarctica’s hidden world revealed.

credit: BEDMAP Consortium