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Glaciologists Have Unveiled the Most Accurate Portrait of Antarctica’s Ice Sheet

Glaciologists Have Unveiled the Most Accurate Portrait of Antarctica's Ice Sheet

A University of California, the Irvine-led group of glaciologists, has unveiled probably the most accurate portrait yet of the contours of the land underneath Antarctica’s ice sheet—and, by doing so, has helped determine which areas of the continent are going to be more, or much less, vulnerable to future climate warming.

Extremely anticipated by the global cryosphere and environmental science communities, the newly launched Antarctica topography map, BedMachine, and associated findings have been published today within the journal Nature Geoscience.

Among the many most striking outcomes of the BedMachine project are the invention of stabilizing ridges that protect the ice flowing throughout the Transantarctic Mountains; a bed geometry that will increase the risk of rapid ice melting within the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers sector of West Antarctica; a bed underneath the Recovery and Support Force glaciers that’s hundreds of meters deeper than previously thought, making those ice sheets extra prone to retreat; and the world’s deepest land canyon under Denman Glacier in East Antarctica.

The new Antarctic bed topography product was constructed utilizing ice thickness information from 19 totally different research institutes dating back to 1967, encompassing almost a million line-miles of radar soundings. As well as, BedMachine’s creators utilized ice shelf bathymetry measurements from NASA’s Operation IceBridge campaigns, in addition to ice stream velocity and seismic data, where available. A few of this same information has been employed in different topography mapping projects, yielding similar outcomes when viewed broadly.

Making use of the same approach to Antarctica is particularly challenging because of the continent’s size and remoteness; however, Morlighem noted, BedMachine will help cut back the uncertainty in sea level rise projections from numerical models.

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Matthew Galbraith

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