Review

History, mass loss, structure, and dynamic behavior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

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Science  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6484, pp. 1321-1325
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5489

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Abstract

Antarctica contains most of Earth’s fresh water stored in two large ice sheets. The more stable East Antarctic Ice Sheet is larger and older, rests on higher topography, and hides entire mountain ranges and ancient lakes. The less stable West Antarctic Ice Sheet is smaller and younger and was formed on what was once a shallow sea. Recent observations made with several independent satellite measurements demonstrate that several regions of Antarctica are losing mass, flowing faster, and retreating where ice is exposed to warm ocean waters. The Antarctic contribution to sea level rise has reached ~8 millimeters since 1992. In the future, if warming ocean waters and increased surface meltwater trigger faster ice flow, sea level rise will accelerate.

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