Scientists have created an interactive map of the ice cover off the coast of Antarctica to facilitate navigation and research. This is reported by the Australian Antarctic Program.
The instrument, developed by Antarctic explorer Petra Hale and her colleagues, has been dubbed the Nilas. It combines real-time data with information from historical archives. The map takes into account the location of sea ice, data on chlorophyll (an indicator of phytoplankton production) and sea surface temperature. We use ice data from 1980 and chlorophyll data from 1998.
The authors believe that historical ice and ocean data, and the ability to overlay past or estimated ship trajectories, animal tracks, or instrument performance on the collected data, make it a powerful planning, analysis, and research tool. Scientists have already planned a marine research expedition using the map. In particular, the best locations were identified for deploying instruments designed to monitor the processes of ice breaking at the boundary between land and sea. In addition, the tool made it possible to make decisions about the best time of year to visit, when the ship is in the least danger.
Finally, the model has the potential to reveal hidden relationships in nature. Thus, phytoplankton can emit sulfate aerosols into the air, affecting, for example, the properties of the atmosphere. Thus, having all this data in one interface facilitates interdisciplinary research.