Ice sheets & sea levels

The 2018 Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Project (IMBIE), co-led by CPOM Director Professor Andy Shepherd, shows that ice losses from Antarctica have increased global sea levels by 7.6 mm since 1992, with two fifths of this rise (3.0 mm) coming in the last five years alone.

IMBIE found that, prior to 2012, Antarctica lost ice at a steady rate of 76 billion tonnes per year – a 0.2 mm per year contribution to sea level rise. However, since then there has been a sharp, threefold increase. Between 2012 and 2017 the continent lost 219 billion
tonnes of ice per year – a 0.6 mm per year sea level contribution.

Sea level contribution due to the Antarctic ice sheet between 1992 and 2017. Credit: IMBIE/Planetary Visions

We are continually improving our long-term estimates of ice sheet mass balance through exercises like IMBIE as well as detailed studies of the ice sheets, investigating for example the instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

CPOM is also leading ESA’s Antarctic Climate Change Initiative (CCI), which is producing long term and reliable satellite data records of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.