Scientists have built the most detailed map of Antarctica – now its image is more accurate than that of any other continent of our planet, reports Ohio University.
The rate of melting of ice in Antarctica has reached record levels today . As studies show, over the past five years this process has accelerated approximately three-fold. Since 2012, the mainland annually loses about 219 billion tons of ice. At the same time, it was rather difficult for scientists to track changes due to the lack of detailed maps of Antarctica.
The new map, called REMA (Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica), was made up of individual stereoscopic high-altitude models. They were created on the basis of several hundred thousand images received by satellites WorldView-1, WorldView-2 and WorldView-3. In addition, the map used GeoEye-1 satellite images for 2009-2017. Each altitude model was compared with radar measurements from the Cryosat-2 and ICESat satellites, resulting in an error in altitude measurement in most areas of the continent of less than 1 meter.
To combine the images of the continent with each other, they investigated the use of the super-computer Blue Waters and a special program developed by the team from the Bird Center. As a result, they received a card that occupies 150 terabytes of disk space. It covers about 98 percent of the surface to 88 degrees of latitude and allows you to see objects ranging in size from 2 to 8 meters. For comparison, in the past the resolution of such maps was about one thousand meters.
Each section of the map has a timestamp, which will allow us to track changes in the future related to global warming. Due to the fact that REMA provides very accurate data, scientists will be able to notice even small changes taking place in Antarctica. Researchers plan to update the map regularly with the help of new data.
Last year a huge iceberg broke away from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica , which suddenly began to crumble to pieces right on the shore. Scientists fear that the scattering of icebergs right off the coast may be a result of a reduction in the volume of the glacier and a rise in sea level.