How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Learn how plants respond to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

The Mass Balance of Antarctica's Dronning Maud Land Ice Sheet

Paper Reviewed
Callens, D., Thonnard, N., Lenaerts, J.T.M., Van Wessem, J.M., Van De Berg, W.J., Matsuoka, K. and Pattyn, F. 2015. Mass balance of the Sor Rondane glacial system, East Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology 56: 63-69.

Introducing their intriguing study, Callens et al. (2015) write that "mass changes of polar ice sheets have an important societal impact, because they affect global sea level." And for this reason they go on to describe how they determined the mass budget of the Dronning Maud Land ice sheet by evaluating the balance between its yearly mass gain via precipitation and its mass loss via outflow across the ice sheet's grounding line. More specifically, as they describe it, the seven scientists computed "the mass budget of the major outlet glaciers in the eastern Dronning Maud Land sector of the Antarctic ice sheet using the input/output method, where input is driven by recent surface accumulation estimates of the whole drainage basin, and where outflow at the grounding line is determined from radar data of a recent airborne survey and satellite-based velocities."

And what did their work show?

These efforts ultimately revealed that this particular part of Antarctica has recently been gaining about 3.15 billion tons of new ice each year, which phenomenon obviously tends to temper the current rate of sea level rise. And, one might add, it also suggests that further developments of this nature could help to reduce the current mean rate of global sea level rise even more.

Posted 19 February 2016