ESA has published a new map of Antartica. Based on the results of its CryoSat Mission, the map compromises the most accurate 3D view ever produced of the continent’s ice sheet and floating ice shelves. The result of research recently published in The Cryosphere, this latest digital elevation model is available for downloading.

According to Tom Slater, from the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM)

Our new model has several advantages over the previous one. It covers 3500.000 sq km more of the continent’s surface and the resolution is twice as high, sampling the ice-sheet surface every kilometre.

CryoSat uses a radar altimeter, that detects tiny variations in the height of the ice across the entire continent, which includes the steeper continental margins. The vast majority of ice losses occur there. The model uses about 250 million measurements, taken by CryoSat between July 2010 en July 2016. This is about 5 million more than used for the previous version – for a snapshot of 95% of the continent, up by 3%.

Accurate knowledge of the current topography of Antarctica will allow better prediction of the response of the ice sheet to the warming climate over the next decades. Andy Shepherd, CPOM, added that

this model will also be useful to anybody wanting to know about the continent’s surface, whether they are planning scientific fieldwork, or modelling the ice sheet’s future behaviour and potential sea level contribution.

We leave you with this clip from ESA, explaining Cryosat’s mission of providing information on the many key variables affecting our enviroment and ESA’s ‘Ice Mission‘: