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.