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Mass Loss of Totten and Moscow University Glaciers, East Antarctica, Using Regionally Optimized GRACE Mascons


Totten and Moscow University glaciers, in the marine-based sector of East Antarctica, contain enough ice to raise sea level by 5 m. Obtaining precise measurements of their mass balance is challenging owing to large area of the basins and the small mass balance signal compared to West Antarctic glaciers. Here we employ a locally optimized processing of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) harmonics to evaluate their mass balance at the sub-basin scale and compare the results with mass budget method (MBM) estimates using regional atmospheric climate model version 2.3 (RACMO2.3) or Modèle Atmosphérique Régional version 3.6.4 (MAR3.6.4). The sub-basin mass loss estimate for April 2002 to November 2015 is 14.8 ± 4.3 Gt/yr, which is weakly affected by glacial isostatic adjustment uncertainties (±1.4 Gt/yr). This result agrees with MBM/RACMO2.3 (15.8 ± 2.0 Gt/yr), whereas MBM/MAR3.6.4 underestimates the loss (6.6 ± 1.6 Gt/yr). For the entire drainage, the mass loss for April 2002 to August 2016 is 18.5 ± 6.6 Gt/yr, or 15 ± 4% of its ice flux. These results provide unequivocal evidence for mass loss in this East Antarctic sector.

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