How Antarctica Would Look Completely Naked

Anatarctica is frigid, self-consciously cloaked in a thick sheet of ice. But there’s a wonderland of bedrock underneath that human eyes have never laid eyes on, and this is what it looks like.

This new map, named Bedmap2, was generated by the British Antarctic Survey from millions upon millions of measurements taken on the surface of those icy flows and from orbit alike, showing the age-old depths that lie below in greater detail than ever. NASA even has a little widget lets you slide between the new high-res Bedmap2 and its lower-res predecessor as well as strip and reclothe Antarctica.

Aside from being cool (haHA), this information has some practical value by helping to explain why the mammoth polar glaciers melt and flow they way they do, and exactly how they might drown us all if we don’t shape up on the whole global-warming front. It’s definitely neat to see, but we’ll all be better off if that ice just stays intact. [NASAexplorer via Wired]