Change in Antarctic Ice Shelf Area from 2009 to 2019

  • Julia R. Andreasen (Creator)
  • Anna E. Hogg (Creator)
  • Heather L. Selley (Creator)



Antarctic Ice Shelves provide buttressing support to the ice sheet, stabilising the flow of grounded ice and its contribution to global sea levels. Over the past 50-years satellite observations have shown ice shelves collapse, thin and retreat, however, there are few measurements of the Antarctic wide change in ice shelf area. Here, we use MODIS satellite data to measure the change in ice shelf calving front position and area on 34 ice shelves in Antarctica, from 2009 to 2019. Over the last decade, a reduction in area on the Antarctic Peninsula (6,692.5 km2) and West Antarctica (5,563.1 km2), has been outweighed by area growth in East Antarctica (3,532.1 km2) and the large Ross and Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelves (14,027.9 km2). The largest retreat was observed on Larsen-C Ice Shelf where 5,916.6 km2 of ice was lost during an individual calving event in 2017, and the largest area increase was observed on Ronne Ice Shelf in East Antarctica, where gradual advance over the past decade (535.3 km2/yr) led to a 5,888.6 km2 area gain from 2009–2019. Overall, the Antarctic Ice Shelf area has grown by 5,304.5 km2 since 2009, with 18 ice shelves retreating and 16 larger shelves growing in area. Our observations show that Antarctic Ice Shelves gained 660.6 Gt of ice mass over the decade whereas the steady state approach would estimate substantial ice loss over the same period, demonstrating the importance of using time-variable calving flux observations to measure change.
Date made availableApr 14 2023

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