Rescued radar maps reveal Antarctica's past
Glaciologists will soon have a treasure trove of data for exploring how Antarctica’s underbelly has changed over nearly half a century. An international team of researchers has scanned and digitized 2 million records from pioneering aeroplane radar expeditions that criss-crossed the frozen continent in the 1960s and 1970s.
“These are the flights that invented this way of doing glaciology,” says Dustin Schroeder, a radar engineer at Stanford University in California who is leading the new project.
The digitized data extend the record of changes at the bottom of the ice sheet, such as the formation of channels as Antarctica’s ice flows, by more than two decades. “All of a sudden it allows us to understand how dynamic the bottom of the ice sheet was — or was not — over that long time period,” Schroeder says. The work could also help researchers get a better handle on how the ice sheet might respond as global temperatures rise.