While some climate change research suggests that global sea levels are rising due to global warming and the shrinkage of glaciers, a new study in Science has found that the interior of the East Antarctic ice sheet is actually gaining mass.
Curt Davis, a researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia, observed the ice sheet over a 10 year period using satellites and discovered that the ice sheet’s interior was gaining mass by about 45 billion tons per year. The interior of the ice sheet is the only large terrestrial ice body that is likely gaining mass rather than losing it, said Davis. “Many recent studies have focused on coastal ice sheet losses and their contributions to sea level rise,” Davis said. “This study suggests that the interior areas of the ice sheet also can play an important role. In particular, the East Antarctic ice sheet is the largest in the world and contains enough mass to raise sea level by more than 50 meters. Thus, only small changes in its interior can have a significant affect on sea level.”