Ever wondered just what’s hiding under all of Antarctica’s ice? Some 34 million years ago the place was a rainforest, so it’s certainly landmass that has seen it’s fair share of dramatic shifts in climate.
In conjunction with NASA’s IceBridge mission, the British Antarctic Survey put together this stunning image of the continent sans ice based on new measurements of surface elevation, ice thickness, and bedrock topography.
“The new Bedmap shows, with unprecedented detail, the bedrock beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica,” says Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey. “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.”
Researchers are using maps such as these to determine just how fast Antarctica’s ice sheets (which contain more than half the world’s fresh water) are melting into the ocean. Check out this beautifully animated video for more details on the project.