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Mass balance of the ice sheets and glaciers – progress since AR5 and challenges

Hanna, E.; Pattyn, F.; Navarro, F.; Favier, V.; Goelzer, H.; van den Broeke, M.R.; Vizcaino, M.; Whitehouse, P.L.; Ritz, C.; Bulthuis, K.; Smith, B.

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E. Hanna

F. Pattyn

F. Navarro

V. Favier

H. Goelzer

M.R. van den Broeke

M. Vizcaino

C. Ritz

K. Bulthuis

B. Smith


Recent research shows increasing decadal ice mass losses from the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets and more generally from glaciers worldwide in the light of continued global warming. Here, in an update of our previous ISMASS paper (Hanna et al., 2013), we review recent observational estimates of ice sheet and glacier mass balance, and their related uncertainties, first briefly considering relevant monitoring methods. Focusing on the response to climate change during 1992-2018, and especially the post-IPCC AR5 period, we discuss recent changes in the relative contributions of ice sheets and glaciers to sea-level change. We assess recent advances in understanding of the relative importance of surface mass balance and ice dynamics in overall ice-sheet mass change. We also consider recent improvements in ice-sheet modelling, highlighting data-model linkages and the use of updated observational datasets in ice-sheet models. Finally, by identifying key deficiencies in the observations and models that hamper current understanding and limit reliability of future ice-sheet projections, we make recommendations to the research community for reducing these knowledge gaps. Our synthesis aims to provide a critical and timely review of the current state of the science in advance of the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report that is due in 2021.


Hanna, E., Pattyn, F., Navarro, F., Favier, V., Goelzer, H., van den Broeke, M., …Smith, B. (2020). Mass balance of the ice sheets and glaciers – progress since AR5 and challenges. Earth-Science Reviews, 201, Article 102976.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2019
Publication Date Feb 28, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2020
Journal Earth-Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0012-8252
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 201
Article Number 102976
Public URL


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