Antarctic Ice: Still Losing Mass.
A new study just published in the Journal of Glaciology is causing some buzz in climate circles, because it appears to claim that Antarctica—long thought to be losing ice at extremely alarming rates—is actually gaining ice.
However, note the word appears. The reality is more complicated, and in the end the important aspect of this is that the study only talks about part of Antarctica, and only used data up to 2008. Both of these points are critical.
The authors looked at satellite altimeter data, using that to track how much snow accumulated over a given time period. Looking at different satellites, they found that enough snow fell over some parts of the southern continent (most importantly the vast area of East Antarctica) to more than balance the ice lost via melting.
In other words, East Antarctica (and parts of West) was gaining mass. That’s interesting!
But the authors note that the accumulation rate is steady while losses are increasing. As they mention in their conclusion, this gain in mass over the regions studied can’t keep up with losses, and they’re likely to balance in about 20 years. After that, losses win.