It took the British Antarctic Survey several decades to gather data on the geography of Antarctica they completed this new map of the continent, dubbed Bedmap2.
Bedmap2 is a marked improvement from the "original" Bedmap which was built almost entirely with measurements taken by scientists on the ground. This updated version relies on several different sources to get the most accurate information possible.
Operation IceBridge is a NASA program that sent laser-equipped airplanes to Antarctica to measure surface elevation, ice thickness, and bedrock topography for Bedmap2. This program played an integral role in the creation of the new map since it covered more ground more quickly than the research teams trekking around Antarctica ever could have when they completed the original.
Bedmap2's sharper imagery lets us see all kinds of things we couldn't with Bedmap1. Charles Webb, NASA's deputy program scientist for cryospheric sciences, is excited that this higher res map provides information about the flow of ice. It helps to know the exact shapes of mountains and other formations to determine how quickly ice will travel to the ocean and cause the sea level to rise.