It's taken 20 years and over 25 million measurements, but we now have a new map of Antarctica that strips away the ice to give us a better look at what's underneath.
Although Antarctica is a vast continent that you could fit all of Canada into with plenty of room to spare, we've only seen about half of a per cent of the actual land (about the equivalent of mainland Nova Scotia). However, thanks to an international effort led by the British Antarctic Survey, that gathered 25 million measurements over the past 20 years, we now have an incredibly accurate look at the actual continent underneath all that ice.
The hope is that, with this new map, scientists will be able to better predict how the ice resting on the continent is flowing and where the water from this ice ends up as it continues to melt due to climate change.
Although the extent of Antarctic sea-ice has been increasing in recent years, this increase of ice in the water is due to a loss of ice from the continent. Fresh water melted from the ice flows into the saltwater of the oceans around the continent. Since fresh water is less dense than salt water it floats at the top of the coastal waters, where the frigid air (nearly always lower than the freezing mark) quickly forces it to contribute to the extent of the sea ice. As the melting on the continent continues, this will continue to create more and more sea ice at the expense of the ice on land.
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