Bedmap2 gives scientists a more detailed view of Antarctica's landmass

Mar 08, 2013
A different view: Antarctica without the ice.

Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey have been working with a host of international collaborators to present the most detailed map yet of Antarctica's landmass. Bedmap2 reveals a landscape of mountain ranges and plains cut by gorges and valleys much deeper than previously seen.

In addition, the map allows scientists to analyse, in much greater detail, the bed below the .

Several features of the bed have been revealed for the first time including a new deepest point. The bed under the Byrd Glacier in Victoria Land is 2,870 metres below sea level making it the lowest point on any of the Earth's .

The map was compiled using datasets collected from radio echo sounding measurements, seismic techniques, satellite readings and cartographic data.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

A number of key statistics emerge:

  • The volume of ice in Antarctica is 4.6% greater than previously thought
  • The mean bed depth of Antarctica, at 95 metres, is 60 m lower than estimated
  • The volume of ice that is grounded with a bed below sea level is 23% greater than originally thought meaning there is a larger volume of ice that is susceptible to rapid melting. The ice that rests just below sea level is vulnerable to warming from
  • The total potential contribution to rise from Antarctica is 58 metres, similar to previous estimates but a much more
  • The new deepest point, under Byrd Glacier, around 400 metres deeper than the previously identified deepest point
Peter Fretwell, from the , says: "The new Bedmap shows, with unprecedented detail, the bedrock beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica. 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."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Dr Hamish Pritchard, co-lead author of the study, says: "The Bedmap2 project is about more than making a map of the landscape. The data we've put together on the height and thickness of the ice and the shape of the landscape below are fundamental to modelling the behaviour of the ice sheet in the future. This matters because in some places, ice along the edges of Antarctica is being lost rapidly to the sea, driving up sea level. Knowing how much the sea will rise is of global importance, and these maps are a step towards that goal."

Explore further: Retreat of Yakutat Glacier

More information: www.the-cryosphere.net/7/375/2… 13/tc-7-375-2013.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Warming ocean could start big shift of Antarctic ice

Sep 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—Fast-flowing and narrow glaciers have the potential to trigger massive changes in the Antarctic ice sheet and contribute to rapid ice-sheet decay and sea-level rise, a new study has found.

More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica

Dec 12, 2012

Stronger snowfall increases future ice discharge from Antarctica. Global warming leads to more precipitation as warmer air holds more moisture – hence earlier research suggested the Antarctic ice sheet ...

Recommended for you

Severe drought is causing the western US to rise

2 hours ago

The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns. Scientists at Scripps Institution of ...

A NASA satellite double-take at Hurricane Lowell

2 hours ago

Lowell is now a large hurricane in the Eastern Pacific and NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites double-teamed it to provide infrared and radar data to scientists. Lowell strengthened into a hurricane during the ...

Arctic sea ice influenced force of the Gulf Stream

5 hours ago

The force of the Gulf Stream was significantly influenced by the sea ice situation in the Fram Strait in the past 30,000 years. Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ...

User comments : 0