Ice Sheet Disintegration

Ice sheet change is expected to be a "slow" climate feedback. How rapidly ice sheets can disintegrate is one of the most uncertain and imporant climate issues. The dominant physical process causing ice sheet disintegration may be absorption of heat by the ocean (due to an increasing greenhouse effect), resulting melting of ice shelves, and thus an increased rate of discharge of ice from the ice sheet to the ocean. Once this process gets well underway, it may be difficult to prevent accelerating ice sheet disintegration under its own impetus (

Also in PDF

Also in PDF. (last modified 2018/07/02)

The figure above shows the rate of mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, based on updates of Rignot et al. (2011) and Velicogna et al. (2014), and NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of th Planet web page (Data through June 2017).

E. Rignot et al. (2011) "Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise", GRL, 38, L05503 (5 pp.)
I. Velicogna et al. (2014) "Regional acceleration in ice mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica using GRACE time-variable gravity data, GRL, 41, 8130-8137.
Wiese, D. N., D.-N. Yuan, C. Boening, F. W. Landerer, and M. M. Watkins (2017) Greenland Mass Variability Time Series Version 1 from JPL GRACE Mascon CRI Filtered.

Our Essay: "Update of Greenlnad Ice Sheet Mass Loss: Exponential?" (2012/12/26)


(last modified 2019/03/25)
Data source: Polar Portal: Surface Conditions