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

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

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Nerilie J. Abram

Tamsin L. Edwards

Matthew H. England

Annie Foppert

Richard S. Jones

Matt A. King

Jan T.M. Lenaerts

Brooke Medley

Bertie W.J. Miles

Catherine Ritz

Tina van de Flierdt


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.


Stokes, C. R., Abram, N. J., Bentley, M. J., Edwards, T. L., England, M. H., Foppert, A., …Whitehouse, P. (2022). Response of the East Antarctic Sheet to Past and Future Climate Change. Nature, 608, 275-286.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2022
Publication Date Aug 10, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 10, 2023
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 0028-0836
Electronic ISSN 1476-4687
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 608
Pages 275-286
Publisher URL


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