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Keywords:

  • Russian Arctic;
  • climate;
  • glacier;
  • grace;
  • icesat;
  • mass budget

[1] Glaciers and ice caps are known to contribute significantly to present-day sea level rise, but there are still glaciated regions where little is known about modern changes in glacier mass. One of these regions is the Russian High Arctic archipelagos which has a total glaciated area of 51,500 km2. We have assessed the glacier mass budget of this region for a 6-year period between October 2003 and October 2009 using independent ICESat laser altimetry and GRACE gravimetry. Over this period we found that the archipelagos have lost ice at a rate of −9.1 ± 2.0 Gt a−1, which corresponds to a sea level contribution of 0.025 mm a−1. Approximately 80% of the ice loss came from Novaya Zemlya with the remaining 20% coming from Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya. Meteorological records of temperature and precipitation for the period 1980–2009 suggest that the recent climatic mass budget is not substantially different from the longer-term trend.