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Antarctica is Losing Ice, New Map Reveals

Aug 13, 2016 05:21 AM EDT
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Accuracy is very important in the field of science and research. That is why it is a huge triumph for the scientists in British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to finally determine the accurate quantification of how much ice-free rock in the frozen continent.

Phys.org reports that from previously estimated "less than 1 [percent]," scientists are more certain that 0.18 percent of Antarctica is ice-free. They can now monitor the effects of climate change in the region because this will advance the baseline that they use.

Through the improvements of remote-sensing satellites, scientists are more able to determine the accuracy of their gathered data. This will help them improve their geological surveying and monitoring, as knowing the difference between ice and snow is a difficulty because rock outcrop, BAS reports.

According to the lead author of the paper Alex Burton-Johnson, "Maps of exposed rock in Antarctica are a key base dataset for research on the continent for a range of researchers and subject areas, including glaciology, geology and geomorphology, and the existing digital map has been downloaded over 2500 times in the last three years."

The particular dataset used was obtained manually and considered inaccurate. This is emphasized more by poor location accuracy and, of course, frequent incorrect classification of shaded snow as rock.

"Automated methods have produced accurate maps from satellite images at lower latitudes, but extensive unavoidable shade and clouds in Antarctica render the methods by which they were derived unsuitable towards the Poles," Burton-Johnson further explained.

The development of the first automated methodology for rock and snow differentiation in Antarctica and the subsequent analysis of hundreds of satellite images are needed for this project.

The usage of methodology and computer code,which are available online, can help the expansion of open science resources for Antarctic research.

Scientists were able to create an automated map of rock outcrop across Antarctica by using the latest NASA and USGS data. More details are found in the study published in the journal Cryosphere.

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