EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Climate-driven rapid mass loss in West Antarctica revealed by Swarm gravimetry in the absence of GRACE

Chaoyang Zhang1, Che-Kwan Shum2,3, Aleš Bezděk4, Michael Bevis2, João Teixeira da Encarnação1,5, Byron Tapley1, Yu Zhang2, Xiaoli Su6, and Qiang Shen3
Chaoyang Zhang et al.
  • 1Center for Space Research, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
  • 2Division of Geodetic Science, School of Earth Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
  • 3Innovation Academy for Precision Measurement Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
  • 4Astronomical Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ondrejov, Czech Republic
  • 5Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
  • 6PGMF and School of Physics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

GRACE observations revealed that rapid mass loss in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) abruptly paused in 2015, followed by a much lower rate of mass loss ( 21.3±5.7 Gt‧yr-1) until the decommissioning of GRACE in 2017. The critical 1-year GRACE inter-mission data gap raises the question of whether the reduced mass loss rate persists. The Swarm gravimetry data, which have a lower resolution, show good agreement with GRACE/GRACE-FO observations during the overlapping period, i.e. high correlation (0.78) and consistent trend estimates. Swarm data efficiently bridge the GRACE/GRACE-FO data gap and reveal that WAIS has returned to the rapid mass loss state (  161.5±48.4  Gt‧yr-1) that prevailed prior to 2015 during the GRACE inter-mission data gap. The changes in precipitation patterns, driven by the climate cycles, further explain and confirm the dramatic shifts in the WAIS mass loss regime implied by the Swarm observations.

How to cite: Zhang, C., Shum, C.-K., Bezděk, A., Bevis, M., Teixeira da Encarnação, J., Tapley, B., Zhang, Y., Su, X., and Shen, Q.: Climate-driven rapid mass loss in West Antarctica revealed by Swarm gravimetry in the absence of GRACE, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2032,, 2022.


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