Fascinating 3D map shows what lies beneath Greenland


The colorful visualization you see above is what Greenland would look like if it were to lose its ice cover. Produced by researchers at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), University of Bristol and University of California at Irvine, the stunning Greenland Basal Topography BedMachine v3 map has been compiled using varied data – satellite imagery, airborne and ground-based radar and seabed mapping data from research ships. This data has been collected over decades by more than 30 institutions.

In the map, you can see the highest peaks of the region in red. The lowest-lying areas are hued in green and the sea level is in blue color. What makes this 3D map particularly interesting is that it will allow scientists to make much more accurate calculations about the future sea-level rise. The shape of the territory’s bedrock and the adjoining seafloor are crucial indicators of how Greenland may respond to climate change in the future.

“It reveals that many glaciers that drain the Greenland ice sheet are thicker than previously estimated – up to 100 meters in places,” explains Glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber at University of Bristol. So, basically, if all the ice in Greenland were to melt completely, the global sea level rise would amount to 7.42 meters – 7cm more from previous estimates.

Apart from exposing the thickness of ice in various places, the variations in the landscape also give scientists a bird’s eye view of the areas which are undergoing change more rapidly than others. “The glaciers have complex fjord geometries that will control how they react to changes from the effects of warmer ocean currents,” Bamber says. By revealing the new pathways by which Atlantic water can access glaciers with marine-based basins, the map has exposed those regions of Greenland that are most vulnerable to future oceanic forcing.

Greenland Basal Topography BedMachine v3 map has been produced at a horizontal spatial resolution of up to 150 meters. See it in all its glory in the video below: