Scientists Use Supercomputer to Map Antarctica

New model provides 8-meter resolution for a whole continent

Scientists at the University of Minnesota and Ohio State University have produced the most accurate high-resolution map of Antarctica ever created. The map, which is known as the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA), covers 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) and has a resolution of 8 meters.

A collection of polar-orbiting satellites took pictures over six years to assemble the images used to create the map, and the team used the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) to process the images and build the map.

Ian Howat, professor of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University, states, “Until now, we’ve had a better map of Mars than we’ve had of Antarctica. Now it’s the best-mapped continent on Earth.”

According to the press release at the University of Minnesota website, “About 99 percent of Antarctica is covered in ice. This new map provides unprecedented detail that will help scientists measure the impact of climate change over time.”