Response of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to past and future climate change

Chris R. Stokes*, Nerilie J. Abram, Michael J. Bentley, Tamsin L. Edwards, Matthew H. England, Annie Foppert, Stewart S.R. Jamieson, Richard S. Jones, Matt A. King, Jan T.M. Lenaerts, Brooke Medley, Bertie W.J. Miles, Guy J.G. Paxman, Catherine Ritz, Tina van de Flierdt, Pippa L. Whitehouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
Issue number7922
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2022


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