Data

Ice sheet mass balance

NASA/JPL
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What you should know about this indicator

  • Values are centered at zero in 2002 to provide a consistent point of reference.
  • A downward slope indicates a net loss of ice and snow.
  • For reference, 1,000 billion metric tons is enough to raise sea level by about 3 millimeters.
Ice sheet mass balance NASA/JPL
Measured in billion tonnes.
Source
EPA based on various sources (2021) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
July 2024
Unit
billion tonnes

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

This dataset includes the cumulative change in mass in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica since 1992.

This indicator is presented in two different ways, based on two different sources:

  • IMBIE, an average value based on more than 20 different studies.
    • The uncertainty estimates from the various datasets that feed into the combined average.
  • NASA JPL: A commonly cited analysis by NASA JPL, which includes seasonal variations.

All estimates are centered at zero in 2002 to provide a consistent point of reference. Thus, a downward slope indicates a net loss of ice and snow. For reference, 1,000 billion metric tons is equal to about 260 cubic miles of ice—enough to raise sea level by about 3 millimeters.

Retrieved on
April 17, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Climate Change Indicators: Ice Sheets (2021)
Full citation of the original sources:
  • IMBIE (Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise team). 2018. Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017. Nature 558:219-222. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0179-y
  • IMBIE (Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise team). 2020. Mass balance of the Greenland Ice sheet from 1992 to 2018. Nature in press. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1855-2
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). 2021. Vital signs: Land ice. Antarctica and Greenland mass variation since 2002. Accessed March 2021. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/land-ice
More details can be found on their technical documentation.

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Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Ice sheet mass balance”, part of the following publication: Hannah Ritchie, Pablo Rosado and Veronika Samborska (2024) - “Climate Change”. Data adapted from United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/ice-sheet-mass-balance [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

EPA based on various sources (2021) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

EPA based on various sources (2021) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Ice sheet mass balance – NASA/JPL” [dataset]. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate Change Indicators: Ice Sheets” [original data]. Retrieved June 15, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/ice-sheet-mass-balance