Data Backup Digest

Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

results »

Using 150 TB of High-Res Imagery To Create The Most Detailed Map of Antarctica

With the exception of the deepest and darkest depths of the oceans, civilization has explored nearly every inch of the world's surface – with one notable exception. Despite the fact that it is twice the size of the continent of Australia – making it the world's fifth-largest continent – Antarctica remains relatively unexplored. It's certainly uninhabited.

Such little is known about the continent of Antarctica that we've had maps of the planet Mars that show greater detail – up until now. Thanks to a recent research initiative and the development of groundbreaking new software, scientists with The Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota have published the most detailed satellite image of any continent to date. Antarctica is now considered "the best-mapped continent on Earth."

Introducing REMA

The REMA, or Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica, was pieced together with thousands of different satellite images. These images, which were recorded by a company known as DigitalGlobe between 2009 and 2017, were later processed and assembled with a large-scale supercomputer. The result is an incredibly detailed topographical map – complete with land elevation data for every feature on the continent – which comprises a total file size of more than 150 terabytes.

REMA uses a varying resolution of two to eight meters as opposed to the typical standard of 1,000 meters. To put this in perspective, it's the equivalent of switching from a overhead map of New York's entire Central Park district to an image that's detailed enough to view individual cars on the street. It boasts an possible error margin of a mere several feet or less.

To put it another way, Ian Howat, director of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University, said: "If you’re someone that needs glasses to see, it’s a bit like being almost blind and putting on glasses for the first time and seeing 20/20."

Howat continued by saying: "Up until now, we’ve had a better map of Mars than we’ve had of Antarctica. Now it is the best-mapped continent. At this resolution, you can see almost everything. We can actually see variations in the snow in some places. We will be able to measure changes in the surface of the continent over time."

One of the most interesting things about REMA is the fact that it's more than a static image. Apart from monitoring snowfall or depth, scientists are also using the map to track the fracturing of ice shells across a span of three weeks. These fractures are often the first signs that a piece is about to break apart and fall into the ocean.

Scientists will also use this data to gauge the overall rise in sea levels due to glacial melt with greater accuracy than ever before. It's also of tremendous use to the few explorers and researchers who are stationed on the continent of Antarctica.

Finding Out More

For more information on the project, or to view the map for yourself, please follow {{|this link}} to its online location.


No comments yet. Sign in to add the first!