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05 Dec 2011: Hidden Contours of Antarctica
Depicted in Map of ‘Ice-free’ Continent

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey have published the most detailed map yet of what Antarctica’s landscape would look like without its thick covering of ice, showing that large portions of the frozen

Click to enlarge
Antarctica Ice British Antarctic Survey

BEDMAP/BAS
An ‘ice-free’ Antarctica
continent actually rest on the sea bed rather than on land. Using data collected by aerial flights, satellite technology, and research ships over 50 years, British researchers were able to illustrate mountain peaks that are the size of the European Alps but are hidden below thousands of feet of ice. Less than 1 percent of the continent’s rock base is currently visible above the ice, which is three miles thick in places. Known as BEDMAP, the imagery will be shown during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union this week. With increasing evidence that the edges of Antarctica are warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, the new imagery could help scientists forecast future melting. Meanwhile, a new study by researchers at Yale and Purdue universities says the formation of Antarctica’s vast ice sheet 34 million years ago was largely the result of a significant decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the global atmosphere.

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