The mass balance of Antarctica

This page exists mostly to hold some links to various pages, reports, etc on the mass balance of Antarctica. By mass balance, I mean the difference between accumulation and ablation. By accumulation I mean primarily Precipitation minus Evaporation (P-E) (evaporation includes sublimation in this context) although there are additional surface losses from snowdrift and sublimation of lofted snow. By ablation I mean primarily calving of icebergs, but this term also includes loss by melting of the undersides of iceshelves.

Note that "surface mass balance" generally means the term that I have called accumulation above, sometimes this is shortened just to "mass balance" and this can be confusing. The surface mass balance is generally agreed to be about 150 mm/y (plus or minus up to 20%, though the degree of accuracy is, of course, unknown too; also, the value is not constant in time) (averaged over Antarctica, but with very wide variations from more than 1000 mm/year to less that 50 mm/year in the interior to some smaller areas with average net loss).

  • Antarctica: climate change and sea level (by Ice and Climate Division, BAS)
  • Antarctic Mass Balance and Sea Level Change (Charles R. Bentley)
  • (West Antarctic Ice Sheet Initiative)
  • World Data Center-A (WDC-A) for Glaciology (not directly relevant)
  • Reassessment of net surface mass balance in Antarctica (David G. Vaughan et al.) [draft paper] and the main figure
  • Some of my papers are relevant to the surface mass balance
  • Climate info for Antarctica including mass balance pictures.

    Page by W. M. Connolley

    NERC / BAS / ICD / Navigate