8 Mar 2013

Scientists determine how much ice in Antarctic

10:07 pm on 8 March 2013

Scientists have produced their most precise estimate yet of the amount of ice in Antarctica.

They made a detailed analysis of data gathered during 50 years of exploration and arrived at a figure of 26.5 million cubic kilometres.

A crucial aspect of the research determined the shape of the underlying Antarctic rock.

It showed about 10% more of the ice than previously calculated is actually below existing sea levels, the BBC reports.

Peter Fretwell, from the British Antarctic Survey, said this sheds light on how the ice could be altered by climate change.

"One of the things we found in Antarctica is that much more of the Antarctic ice sheets are resting on a bed which is below sea level.

"This means that they're potentially more vulnerable to the ocean currents coming in from underneath and melting them."

Dr Fretwell said the volume and distribution of ice in Antarctica are fundamental factors in determining how melting ice sheets may contribute to sea level rise.