Antarctic Ice! NASA/UC Irvine map of ice velocity in AntarcticaThis new NASA/UC Irvine map of Antarctic ice velocity. It is needed in Antarctica for now it’s is 10 times more accurate. More than any previous map. It also shows flows over 80% of the continent. For starters it goes further because older maps showed about 20%. Colored lines indicate direction of flow; background colors show speed.

Far more accurate than any previous map, this new representation of glacier flows in Antarctica. It therefore opens the door to an improved understanding of the vast continent. As well as and more importantly, the future pace of sea level rise. To create the new map, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, combined input from six different satellite missions dating from 1994 to the present.

All earlier maps of Antarctic ice glacier flow speeds have estimated the speeds largely by tracking the movement of visible features like patches of dirt on the ice surface.  However these new maps rely mainly on observations that use a technique called synthetic aperture radar interferometry. That which is much more sensitive to the motion of the ice itself. So by combining observations from multiple satellites passing over the continent in different directions. Now the researchers produced a map that is not only 10 times more accurate than any previous map. Consequently it also shows speeds for far more of the slow-moving ice on the continental interior than ever before.

The map was published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and may be downloaded at the NASA Distributed Active Archive Center at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

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