By Sarah Wauthy

The ice sheet mass balance (MB) measures the changes in the total mass of the ice sheet. It is the difference between the ice accumulation due to snow fall and ice mass losses mainly due to local melting (and sublimation) or ice transport toward the ocean, where ice ultimately melts too.

More precisely, the surface mass balance is computed as the difference between surface mass balance (SMB), and solid ice discharge (D, i.e the formation of icebergs) and ice shelf bottom melting (M) (the ice sheet part that starts to float on the ocean – by virtue of Archimedes’ principle – in the coastal regions of Antarctica), i.e. MB = SMB – D – M.

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