In Brief

See Antarctica's Entire Seafloor With New Map

Southern Ocean seafloor map
A new bathymetric chart of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. (Image credit: IBCSO/Alfred-Wegener-Institut)

Oceanographers often proclaim maps of Mars are more complete than charts of Earth's seafloor.

Now, the planet's depths are a little clearer thanks to a newly released bathymetric map of the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. For the first time, the deep canyons and steep mountains south of the 60th parallel appear in detail, according to a statement from the Alfred Wegener Institute's Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

Because the undersea topography influences sea ice, ocean currents and marine life, the digital map will help researchers who model Antarctic processes, Jan Erik Arndt, an editor on the project, said in a statement.

Only 17 percent of the Antarctic seafloor has reliable bathymetric data, so researchers creating the map interpolated existing measurements, filling in gaps between known points. The data set and a digital map copy are available online at

Read more: Alfred Wegener Institute

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Becky Oskin
Contributing Writer
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.