Mountain glaciers and ice caps around Antarctica make a large sea-level rise contribution

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Abstract

[1] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the sum of all contributions to sea-level rise for the period 1961–2004 was 1.1 ± 0.5 mm a−1, leaving 0.7 ± 0.7 of the 1.8 ± 0.5 mm a−1 observed sea-level rise unexplained. Here, we compute the global surface mass balance of all mountain glaciers and ice caps (MG&IC), and find that part of this much-discussed gap can be attributed to a larger contribution than previously assumed from mass loss of MG&IC, especially those around the Antarctic Peninsula. We estimate global surface mass loss of all MG&IC as 0.79 ± 0.34 mm a−1 sea-level equivalent (SLE) compared to IPCC's 0.50 ± 0.18 mm a−1. The Antarctic MG&IC contributed 28% of the global estimate due to exceptional warming around the Antarctic Peninsula and high sensitivities to temperature similar to those we find in Iceland, Patagonia and Alaska.

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