Is Antarctica gaining ice?

By Lilly Wright, Shannon Hussey, and Lexi Kislauskis 


This topic gains lots of attention because it completely contradicts everything that we have ever been taught. After doing research, our group decided that Antarctica is not just gaining ice but gaining ice in certain locations and losing ice in other parts of Antarctica. 

Origin and Prevalence   

Whether Antarctica is gaining or losing ice has been a concern for humanity for a long time, but this discussion became more popular back in 2015 when NASA’s scientists began saying Antarctica was gaining ice. Now we have new information, and NASA’s scientists are saying the gains on Antarctica are so small that the continent is losing ice overall. This commenced a worldwide controversy. Anti-climate change groups use the earlier 2015 study that states that Antarctica is gaining ice to justify their cause.  People from around the world all think differently on this topic because it is very hard to gather data to determine an answer to this question. Scientists have been getting different measurements, because the amount of ice in various locations differ, so it is hard to get an exact measurement. 

Issues and Analysis 

After careful research, we’ve concluded that Antarctica is not gaining ice. In a study done by NASA, “an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers”. However, in a more recent NASA study, “Antarctica’s additional ice mass gained from snowfall makes up for just about a third of its current ice loss”. Both ice sheets are currently losing more ice than it’s gaining. It’s estimated that about half of the observed sea level rise is due to this ice lossResearchers have also investigated what caused the increase of snowfall that led people to believe that Antartica was gaining ice. They found that it was consistent with the warming atmosphere, which holds more moisture, combined with changes in the Antarctic circumpolar westerly winds that are related to the ozone hole.