Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet 1992–2016: reconciling results from GRACE gravimetry with ICESat, ERS1/2 and Envisat altimetry

by J. Zwally et al., 2021, March 29, in J.of.Glaciology


GRACE and ICESat Antarctic mass-balance differences are resolved utilizing their dependencies on corrections for changes in mass and volume of the same underlying mantle material forced by ice-loading changes. Modeled gravimetry corrections are 5.22 times altimetry corrections over East Antarctica (EA) and 4.51 times over West Antarctica (WA), with inferred mantle densities 4.75 and 4.11 g cm−3. Derived sensitivities (Sg, Sa) to bedrock motion enable calculation of motion (δB0) needed to equalize GRACE and ICESat mass changes during 2003–08. For EA, δB0 is −2.2 mm a−1 subsidence with mass matching at 150 Gt a−1, inland WA is −3.5 mm a−1 at 66 Gt a−1, and coastal WA is only −0.35 mm a−1 at −95 Gt a−1. WA subsidence is attributed to low mantle viscosity with faster responses to post-LGM deglaciation and to ice growth during Holocene grounding-line readvance. EA subsidence is attributed to Holocene dynamic thickening. With Antarctic Peninsula loss of −26 Gt a−1, the Antarctic total gain is 95 ± 25 Gt a−1 during 2003–08, compared to 144 ± 61 Gt a−1 from ERS1/2 during 1992–2001. Beginning in 2009, large increases in coastal WA dynamic losses overcame long-term EA and inland WA gains bringing Antarctica close to balance at −12 ± 64 Gt a−1 by 2012–16.