Understanding how the ice sheet grows and shrinks over time enhances scientists' understanding of the processes that impact global sea levels. A new research has revealed that annual snow accumulation on West Antarctica's coastal ice sheet increased 30% during the 20th century.
The researchers used ice cores to estimate annual snow accumulation from 1712 to 2010 along West Antarctica's coast. They found that until 1899, annual snow accumulation remained steady, averaging 33 and 40 centimeters of water, or melted snow, each year at two locations. Annual snow accumulation was found to increase in the early 20th century, rising 30% between 1900 and 2010.
In the past 30 years of the study, the ice sheet gained nearly five meters more water than it did during the first 30 years of the studied time period. Lead author of the study Elizabeth Thomas, paleoclimatologist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge said, "Since the record is 300 years long, we can see that the amount of snow that has been accumulating in this region since the 1990s is the highest we have seen in the last 300 years. The 20th century increases look unusual."
The findings appeared in Geophysical Research Letters.