Antarctic Ice Sheet Mass Balance (from SCAR report)


This is from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (“SCAR”) Annual Report 2014-2015, Bulletin No. 191, August 2015.

Ice Sheet Mass Balance

The floating ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic Ice Sheet restrain the grounded icesheet flow. Thinning of an ice shelf reduces this effect, leading to an increase in ice discharge to the ocean. Using 18 years of continuous satellite radar altimeter observations, the authors computed decadal-scale changes in ice-shelf thickness around the Antarctic continent. Overall, average ice-shelf volume change accelerated from negligible loss at 25 ± 64 cubic kilometres per year for 1994–2003 to rapid loss of 310 ± 74 cubic kilometres per year for 2003–2012. West Antarctic losses
increased by ~70% in the past decade, and earlier volume gain by East Antarctic ice shelves ceased. In the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, some ice shelves have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades.

Details at: Paolo, F.S., Fricker, H.A. & Padman, L. 2015. “Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating.” Science, 348(6232): 327-331 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0940.

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