Identifying the Impacts of Sea Ice Variability on the Climate and Surface Mass Balance of West Antarctica

Jessica D. Kromer, Luke D. Trusel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is the largest freshwater body on Earth and a major component of the sea level budget. Over the satellite era, the AIS has experienced ∼130 Gt/year of mass loss. Net losses are partially mitigated by snow accumulation that varies ∼100–130 Gt/yr, underscoring a need to understand the drivers of snowfall variability. Here, we evaluate impacts of decreased sea ice in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica on the overlying atmosphere and surface mass balance of the adjacent AIS using composites, spatial correlations, and a causal effect network method. Importantly, our findings show sea ice declines in the Amundsen Sea lead to enhanced integrated water vapor that is subsequently transported to the AIS resulting in positive anomalies in West Antarctic ice sheet snowfall. Our results suggest future decreases in sea ice may likely enhance ice sheet snowfall, thus partially offsetting Antarctic sea level contributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GL104436
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 28 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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