Antarctica has been covered with ice for thousands of years, and only recently have we been able to fully identify its underlying features. Scientists have turned the spotlight on the topography of Antarctica, and revealed much detail about its rough and rocky surface. Antarctica is in face a mountainous land, and some of the most impressive work establishing this fact has been sponsored by the British Antarctic Survey.
In collaboration with international institutes, in 2012 the BAS released a precise topological map showing the mountain ranges, valleys and plains of the Antarctic continent in stark and never-before-seen detail. This representation is called BEDMAP and it was compiled primarily through the use of radar images and satellite readings, combined with map-making software that allows for vivid recreations of the rugged Antarctic landscape.
A decade before the BAS team unveiled its map, Charles Webb from NASA’s Cryosphere Science Research Center had created a fairly detailed representation of Antarctica’s rock bed. However, his work was based only on ground-based measurements and was therefore limited in terms of how much land it could cover.
Many people had formed their impressions about Antarctica’s hidden landscape based on exposure to a copy of the Piri Reis Map, which some believe survived from extreme antiquity and accurately described Antarctica the way it was before it was covered by ice.