Accelerated ice-sheet mass loss in Antarctica from 18-year satellite laser ranging measurements

Shuanggen Jin, Mosta Abd-Elbaky, Guping Feng


Accurate estimate of the ice-sheet mass balance in Antarctic is very difficult due to complex ice sheet condition and sparse in situ measurements. In this paper, the low-degree gravity field coefficients of up to degree and order 5 derived from Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) measurements are used to determine the ice mass variations in Antarctica for the period 1993–2011. Results show that the ice mass is losing with -36±13 Gt/y in Antarctica, -42±11 Gt/y in the West Antarctica and 6±10 Gt/y in the East Antarctica from 1993 to 2011. The ice mass variations from the SLR 5×5 have a good agreement with the GRACE 5×5, GRACE 5×5 (1&2) and GRACE (60×60) for the entire continent since 2003, but degree 5 from SLR is not sufficient to quantify ice losses in West and East Antarctica, respectively. The rate of ice loss in Antarctica is -28±17 Gt/y for 1993-2002 and -55±17 Gt/y for 2003-2011, indicating significant accelerated ice mass losses since 2003. Furthermore, the results from SLR are comparable with GRACE measurements.


Ice mass balance; Antarctica; SLR; GRACE

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X