When scientists looked at Antarctic snowfall over the past 200 years they found a “significant” increase, up to 10%. In the decade 2001-2010, some 272 billion tons more snow fell on Antarctica per year compared with the decade 1801-1810. This extra amount of snow is equivalent to twice the water volume of the Dead Sea, on a per year basis. However, even though that huge volume of water is being locked up on land, the researchers concluded it would only “slightly slow a general trend in global sea-level rise.”
Antarctic snow accumulation over the past 200 years
The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet, even small changes in its volume could have significant impacts on global mean sea level. There is growing evidence that the AIS has been losing mass in recent decades, while mass gains are predicted under future climate warming scenarios. However, there
is little consensus on how surface mass balance (SMB) has changed in the past. Here we reconstruct Antarctic snow accumulation variability over the past 200 years based 79 ice core snow accumulation records to (i) produce regional SMB composites using a regional atmospheric climate model (RACMO2.3p2) and (ii) produce an Antarctic-wide reconstruction derived from reanalysis precipitation-minus-evaporation. Both methods reveal a significant (∼10%) increase in total Antarctic snow accumulation since 1800 AD. Our results show that SMB for the total Antarctic ice sheet (including ice shelves) has increased at a rate of 7 +/- 0.13 Gt dec-1 since 1800 AD, representing a net reduction in sea level of ∼ 0.02 mm dec-1 since 1800 and ∼0.04 mm dec-1 since 1900 AD. The
largest contribution is from the Antarctic Peninsula, where the annual average SMB during the first decade of the 21st century.