Earth's ice imbalance

Thomas Slater, Isobel R. Lawrence, Inès N. Otosaka, Andrew Shepherd, Noel Gourmelen, Livia Jakob, Paul Tepes, Lin Gilbert

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

Abstract

We combine satellite observations and numerical models to show that Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017. Arctic sea ice (7.6 trillion tonnes), Antarctic ice shelves (6.5 trillion tonnes), mountain glaciers (6.2 trillion tonnes), the Greenland ice sheet (3.8 trillion tonnes), the Antarctic ice sheet (2.5 trillion tonnes), and Southern Ocean sea ice (0.9 trillion tonnes) have all decreased in mass. Just over half (60 %) of the ice loss was from the northern hemisphere, and the remainder (40 %) was from the southern hemisphere. The rate of ice loss has risen by 57 % since the 1990s – from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year – owing to increased losses from mountain glaciers, Antarctica, Greenland, and from Antarctic ice shelves. During the same period, the loss of grounded ice from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and mountain glaciers raised the global sea level by 35.0 ± 3.2 mm. The majority of all ice losses from were driven by atmospheric melting (68 % from Arctic sea ice, mountain glaciers ice shelf calving and ice sheet surface mass balance), with the remaining losses (32 % from ice sheet discharge and ice shelf thinning) being driven by oceanic melting. Altogether, the cryosphere has taken up 3.2 % of the global energy imbalance.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCopernicus Publications
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameThe Cryosphere

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