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New map reveals ice flows on Antarctic Peninsula

ESA scientists say the long-term monitoring of ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica is key to understanding and predicting the effects of global warming.

By
Brooks Hays
Satellite data helped scientists build a map of ice flow velocities on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo by ESA/Copernicus Sentinel/Enveo
Satellite data helped scientists build a map of ice flow velocities on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo by ESA/Copernicus Sentinel/Enveo

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, May 11 (UPI) -- This week, the European Space Agency unveiled a map of the Antarctic Peninsula's ice flows using the radar imagery captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1A satellite.

The map offers an unprecedented look at how the peninsula's many ice forms behave.

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The colors represent the speed of ice flows, with dark blue representing the slowest pace of less than one centimeter per day, while red signals a pace as fast as one meter per day. White signifies areas of snowfall where ice movement is obscured.

Copernicus Sentinel-1A spent 16 months, from December 2014 to March 2016, imaging the Antarctic Peninsula every 12 days. The intervals allowed scientists to more easily measure surface changes and gauge ice flow speeds.

ESA scientists say the long-term monitoring of ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica is key to understanding and predicting the effects of global warming.

"As one of the most dynamic glacial environments on Earth, this region has been experiencing rapid climate warming over recent decades," ESA officials wrote in a news release.

Scientists presented their ice flow velocity mapping project to attendees at ESA's Living Planet Symposium, held this week in Prague.

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