Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 7, 1499–1512, 2013

Special issue: Ice2sea – estimating the future contribution of continental...

The Cryosphere, 7, 1499–1512, 2013

Research article 25 Sep 2013

Research article | 25 Sep 2013

Antarctic ice-mass balance 2003 to 2012: regional reanalysis of GRACE satellite gravimetry measurements with improved estimate of glacial-isostatic adjustment based on GPS uplift rates

I. Sasgen1, H. Konrad1, E. R. Ivins2, M. R. Van den Broeke3, J. L. Bamber4, Z. Martinec5, and V. Klemann1,* I. Sasgen et al.
  • 1Department of Geodesy and Remote Sensing, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg A20, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA
  • 3Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 4School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK
  • 5School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 5 Merrion Square, Dublin 4, Ireland
  • *formerly: National Oceanography Centre, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L3 5DA, UK

Abstract. We present regional-scale mass balances for 25 drainage basins of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) from satellite observations of the Gravity and Climate Experiment (GRACE) for time period January 2003 to September 2012. Satellite gravimetry estimates of the AIS mass balance are strongly influenced by mass movement in the Earth interior caused by ice advance and retreat during the last glacial cycle. Here, we develop an improved glacial-isostatic adjustment (GIA) estimate for Antarctica using newly available GPS uplift rates, allowing us to more accurately separate GIA-induced trends in the GRACE gravity fields from those caused by current imbalances of the AIS. Our revised GIA estimate is considerably lower than previous predictions, yielding an estimate of apparent mass change of 53 ± 18 Gt yr−1. Therefore, our AIS mass balance of −114 ± 23 Gt yr−1 is less negative than previous GRACE estimates. The northern Antarctic Peninsula and the Amundsen Sea sector exhibit the largest mass loss (−26 ± 3 Gt yr−1 and −127 ± 7 Gt yr−1, respectively). In contrast, East Antarctica exhibits a slightly positive mass balance (26 ± 13 Gt yr−1), which is, however, mostly the consequence of compensating mass anomalies in Dronning Maud and Enderby Land (positive) and Wilkes and George V Land (negative) due to interannual accumulation variations. In total, 6% of the area constitutes about half the AIS imbalance, contributing 151 ± 7 Gt yr−1 (ca. 0.4 mm yr−1) to global mean sea-level change. Most of this imbalance is caused by ice-dynamic speed-up expected to prevail in the near future.