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Response of the East Antarctic Sheet to Past and Future Climate Change

Stokes, Chris R. and Abram, Nerilie J. and Bentley, Michael J. and Edwards, Tamsin L. and England, Matthew H. and Foppert, Annie and Jamieson, Stewart S.R. and Jones, Richard S. and King, Matt A. and Lenaerts, Jan T.M. and Medley, Brooke and Miles, Bertie W.J. and Paxman, Guy J.G. and Ritz, Catherine and van de Flierdt, Tina and Whitehouse, Pippa (2022) 'Response of the East Antarctic Sheet to Past and Future Climate Change.', Nature, 608 . pp. 275-286.


The East Antarctic Ice Sheet contains the vast majority of Earth’s glacier ice (about 52 metres sea-level equivalent), but is often viewed as less vulnerable to global warming than the West Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets. However, some regions of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet have lost mass over recent decades, prompting the need to re-evaluate its sensitivity to climate change. Here we review the response of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to past warm periods, synthesize current observations of change and evaluate future projections. Some marine-based catchments that underwent notable mass loss during past warm periods are losing mass at present but most projections indicate increased accumulation across the East Antarctic Ice Sheet over the twenty-first century, keeping the ice sheet broadly in balance. Beyond 2100, high-emissions scenarios generate increased ice discharge and potentially several metres of sea-level rise within just a few centuries, but substantial mass loss could be averted if the Paris Agreement to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius is satisfied.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 10 February 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:30 June 2022
Date deposited:01 July 2022
Date of first online publication:2022
Date first made open access:10 February 2023

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