Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Antarctica - Ice Sheets - the glacial setting at the present

There are 2 parts comprising the Antarctic Ice Sheet, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), which are separated from each other by the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM). The East and West Antarctic subcontinents differ from each other in a number of ways.

There are about 30 million km3 of ice covering an area of 13.6 million km2 in the ice sheets of Antarctica at the present (Denton et al., 1991), making up 90 % of the ice volume of the Earth and if it melted it would raise sea level by about 66 m (Denton et al., 1991). The present mass balance and stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is the most important problem to be unresolved in Antarctica. The estimation of mass balance is accomplished by the accumulation of snow over the ice sheet and the ablation by the calving of icebergs is differenced. According to the author1 melting is insignificant in the present setting [1999]. The literature on the subject was reviewed leading to the conclusion that poor estimates of the ice sheet ablation rate was the main problem with uncertainties in connection to the mass balance estimate (Jacobs, 1992). The author1 suggests the most reliable estimates of ablation rates from West Antarctica indicate mass is being lost from the ice sheet (Jacobs, 1996).



Sources & Further reading

  1. Anderson, John B., 1999, Antarctic Marine Geology, Cambridge University Press


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 17/07/2013
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