Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Satellites Yield Best-Ever Antarctic Maps

08.12.2005


Ross Ice Shelf - Credit: NASA


Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier - Credit: NASA


Scientists using satellite data have now created the most detailed maps ever produced of the vast snow-covered Antarctic continent. The maps reveal unprecedented views of surface features that provide clues to how and why the continent’s massive ice sheets and glaciers are changing.

Researchers can now decipher the intricate history of ice movements in the just-released "Mosaic of Antarctica," which uses images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer onboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The map is the result of a partnership between NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Boulder; and the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

A second map to be released early next year will provide the most complete and accurate topographical survey of the continent ever undertaken, with more than 65 million points surveyed from space by the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System orbiting on NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat). This "digital elevation model" produced at Goddard will be distributed by NSIDC in a format compatible with the Mosaic map.



"The Antarctic Mosaic shows a lot of very subtle changes in the slope of the terrain that you cannot see from the ground," says Robert Bindschadler, chief scientist of Goddard’s Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory. "These subtle variations are important because they tell us the direction the ice is flowing now and they indicate where it has gone in the past. The surface roughness also tells us about the bed underneath the ice and whether the ice is sliding over the bed or frozen to it."

The map will very likely reveal unseen features and new opportunities for exploration, Bindschadler said. "Antarctica is a big place, and there is still an awful lot of the ice sheet that hasn’t been explored." The new map will be used by researchers to identify interesting areas and plan expeditions to investigate them.

The Mosaic removes the terrain distortion and produces a more accurate and natural-looking view of the continent and its very subtle surface features. "Using the Mosaic map together with the Canadian satellite, RADARSAT, is a real breakthrough," says Ted Scambos, one of the creators of the Mosaic at NSIDC. "The Mosaic shows the snow and rock surface almost perfectly, and RADARSAT reveals some of the features below the snow. It’s very informative."

The ICESat topographic map complements the Mosaic’s detailed views of the surface with elevation measurements over more of the continent than has ever been surveyed before. Although the very center of Antarctica remains unmapped because the satellite does not fly directly over the pole, more of the interior of the continent was mapped and in unprecedented detail.

"This is the most accurate elevation map of the ice sheet ever produced, says Jay Zwally, ICESat project scientist at Goddard. "And it will get even better as ICESat continues to acquire more elevation data for studying changes in the ice-sheet volume."

The precision of the ICESat map is more than 10 times better than previous satellite surveys due to the very narrow beam of the laser altimeter instrument compared to the broader beam of radar instruments flown before. The improved mapping of the height of the ice sheet, particularly in the interior of the continent, yields new information about how the topography of this remote area drives the flow of interior ice streams. Key areas such as the major ice streams feeding the Ross Ice Shelf are seen in detail for the first time.

Both maps will be distributed by NSIDC, which serves as one of eight Distributed Active Archive Centers funded by NASA to archive and distribute data from NASA’s past and current satellites and field measurement programs. The Mosaic map is available through a user-friendly zoom-in Web interface that brings together previous maps, such as those from RADARSAT, with new data in different contrast settings that draw out hard-to-see features. The NASA-funded interface was developed at the University of New Hampshire by Mark Fahnestock and Norman Vine.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2005/antarctic_maps.html
http://www.nsidc.org/data/moa/index.html
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/MOA/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships
19.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

nachricht FotoQuest GO: Citizen science campaign targets land-use change in Austria
19.09.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>