Recent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling
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, but enhance glacier discharge at the coast where warmer air and ocean temperatures erode the buttressing ice shelves. 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 461 Gt /yr. In West Antarctica, widespread losses along the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas increased the ice sheet loss by 59% in 10 years to reach 13260 Gt/yr in 2006. In the Peninsula, losses increased by 140% to reach 6046 Gt /yr 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.
Landsat Image Mosaic Of Antarctica (LIMA) http://lima.usgs.gov/