A new map changes our understanding of how ice flows across Antarctica.
A new map changes our understanding of how ice flows across Antarctica.
Harsh snows have blanketed Antarctica for so long that the continent has built up an ice sheet a mile thick from bedrock to surface in most places. Despite the ice cap's grip on the rocky landmass below, friction can only hold back the ice so much. A new, first-of-its-kind map from NASA reveals icy Antarctica as a landscape of constant movement. NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UC Irvine have charted this movement for the first time, using Canadian, Japanese and European satellite data to create a record of the speed and direction of ice flow across the entire continent. The map reveals glaciers and tributaries in patterned flows stretching hundreds of miles inland, like a system of rivers and creeks. Slow-moving flows found in largely unexplored East Antarctica defied previous understanding of ice migration. And scientists discovered a ridge that splits Antarctica from east to west. Explore the visualizations below to see the new benchmark map scientists can use to study the extent and speed of changes to the largest ice sheet in the world.

Another multimedia item related to this story:
NASA Research Leads to First Complete Map of Antarctic Ice Flow (id 3848)
Tag:

Short URL to This Page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?3849
Animation Number:
3849
Released:
2011-08-25
Completed:
2011-08-24
Animators:
 
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC)
 
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC)
 
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC)
Producers:
Whitney B Clavin (NASA/JPL)
 
Alan Buis (NASA/JPL)
 
Janet H. Wilson (University of California, Irvine)
Scientists:
Eric J. Rignot (NASA/JPL)
 
Bernd Scheuchl (University of California, Irvine)
Project Support:
Jeremie Mouginot (University of California, Irvine)
Writer:
Patrick Lynch (Wyle Information Systems)
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


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Slow, interior flows have been sped up to make them more visible. The colors represent the real flow velocity magnitude.
Slow, interior flows have been sped up to make them more visible. The colors represent the real flow velocity magnitude.
>View movie
With all flows shown at the proper scale, only the fastest ice movement is visible.
With all flows shown at the proper scale, only the fastest ice movement is visible.
>View movie
With colors representing velocity magnitude removed, glacier direction stands out against the icy background.
With colors representing velocity magnitude removed, glacier direction stands out against the icy background.
>View movie
Black lines mark continental ridges that separate regions of ice moving toward different parts of the coastline.
Black lines mark continental ridges that separate regions of ice moving toward different parts of the coastline.
>View larger image