Mass Loss in the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets: 2002-2014

8 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2015 Last revised: 1 Nov 2015

Date Written: October 31, 2015


Data from the NASA GRACE satellite program show that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have undergone a steady decline in mass during 2002-2014, the entire period for which GRACE data are available as of this writing. Although the reasons for the decline are unclear, it is generally assumed that surface temperature is a factor in the observed mass loss in both ice sheets. Using detrended correlation analysis we find that mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet shows a statistically significant positive correlation consistent with the surface temperature hypothesis. No such correlation exists for ice sheet mass loss in Antarctica. We conclude that the two polar ice sheet mass loss trends are symptoms of very different underlying phenomena and they are therefore not directly comparable in terms of global warming and climate change.

Keywords: land ice, Greenland, Antarctica, ice melt, ice sheet, NASA GRACE, global warming, climate change, fossil fuel emissions, greenhouse effect, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels

Suggested Citation

Munshi, Jamal, Mass Loss in the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets: 2002-2014 (October 31, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Jamal Munshi (Contact Author)

Sonoma State University ( email )

1801 East Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
United States

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