Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses

So contrary to what you read in the popular press all the time, for example today in the Boston Globe, the Antarctic ice sheet is growing not shrinking and therefore contributing to the lowering, not raising, of global sea level. In a paper published online this year in the Journal of Glaciology, Zwally, Li, et al show that the mass gains from 2003-2008 reduced global sea level rise by .23 mm per year.

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Fig. 1. The principal processes affecting the mass balance and dynamics of the ice sheets are ice mass input from snowfall with losses from sublimation and drifting. Surface melting on the grounded ice of Antarctica is very small, and subject to refreezing in the firn. Interaction with the ocean occurs at the undersides of the floating ice shelves and glacier tongues, and consequent changes in thickness affect the rate of ice flow from the grounded ice.

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