Radar Reveals Antarctica's Hidden 'Alps'
Mapping expedition uncovers 'Alps' that show how ice sheet was formed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2009 5:28 AM CDT
Ministers and representatives from a dozen nations on a fact-finding mission tour the ice sheet below the Judulsessen massif of rock towers, in Antarctica.    (AP Photo/Charles J.Hanley)
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(Newser) – Scientists using radar to map what lies beneath two miles of Antarctic ice have discovered a landscape similar to Europe's Alpine region, the BBC reports. The sharp peaks and deep valleys surprised researchers who expected the area to have been ground much flatter by shifting ice. Researchers believe the findings will yield important clues on how the Antarctic ice sheet formed and how it will behave as the climate changes.

Scientists believe the ice sheet that now covers Antarctica began some14 million years ago when the summer ice ceased to melt. Researchers are continuing the painstaking process of mapping the buried Antarctic, and the work is expected to take years.  "The morphology of these mountains was less well known than the surface of Mars,” noted one glaciologist involved in the study.