Recent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling

TitleRecent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsRignot, E., Bamber J. L., Van Den Broeke M. R., Davis C., Li Y. H., Van De Berg W. J., & Van Meijgaard E.
JournalNature Geoscience
Date Published02/2008
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1752-0894
Accession Number
Keywordsbalance; glacier; Rignot Lab; Rignot Research Group; sea-level rise; sheet; snowfall; west antarctica

Large uncertainties remain in the current and future contribution to sea level rise from Antarctica. Climate warming may increase snowfall in the continent's interior(1-3), but enhance glacier discharge at the coast where warmer air and ocean temperatures erode the buttressing ice shelves(4-11). Here, we use satellite interferometric synthetic-aperture radar observations from 1992 to 2006 covering 85% of Antarctica's coastline to estimate the total mass flux into the ocean. We compare the mass fluxes from large drainage basin units with interior snow accumulation calculated from a regional atmospheric climate model for 1980 to 2004. In East Antarctica, small glacier losses in Wilkes Land and glacier gains at the mouths of the Filchner and Ross ice shelves combine to a near-zero loss of 4 +/- 61 Gt yr(-1). In West Antarctica, widespread losses along the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas increased the ice sheet loss by 59% in 10 years to reach 132 +/- 60 Gt yr(-1) in 2006. In the Peninsula, losses increased by 140% to reach 60 +/- 46 Gt yr(-1) in 2006. Losses are concentrated along narrow channels occupied by outlet glaciers and are caused by ongoing and past glacier acceleration. Changes in glacier flow therefore have a significant, if not dominant impact on ice sheet mass balance.

Alternate JournalNat. Geosci.
ESS Associations
Research Area: 
Physical Climate
Research Lab: 
Rignot Research Group