“You Can See Almost Everything” In Antarctica, The Best-Mapped Continent on the Planet


Earth has a lot of good maps, even in the polar regions. There are maps that even show the thickness of the ice sheet in Antarctica. There is also a map showing the hidden bedrock in Greenland, and it is very detailed.

But the most amazingly detailed map on Earth, with the highest resolution ever, is the one representing Antarctica! This continent might not be your average tourist destination, but if you plan on visiting, there is a detailed one just released by the scientists at Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota.

The team created this map, making Antarctica the best-mapped continent on the planet.

The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA)

According to Earther, the map is called REMA, and it was constructed with hundreds of thousands of satellite images from a period between 2009 and 2017. The team of researchers needed a supercomputer to assemble the data, to add the elevation of the land over time and yield a 150 terabytes file of the most detailed topographical map ever.

An Ohio State press release explained that the map has a resolution of 2 to 8 meters. It’s like being able to look down and see a car, compared to the old map that allowed you to only see an area as big as Central Park.

At the moment, with this map that has an error margin of a few feet, scientists can know the elevation of all points on the frozen continent.

The head of the REMA project, glaciologist Ian Howat (Ohio State University) stated:

“Up until now, we’ve had a better map of Mars than we’ve had of Antarctica. At this resolution, you can see almost everything. We can actually see variations in the snow in some places. We will be able to measure changes in the surface of the continent over time.”

Tom Wagner, a NASA cryosphere program scientist, stated in an email to Earther that:

“This is AMAZING. We’re imaging the polar regions at a level of granularity never before possible.”

This map will be the perfect tool for research projects that will need data on snow cover, the motion of ice, thinning events, river or volcano activity and monitoring of climate change effects. Field expedition will also be a lot easier to plan.


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