Washington DC: A new NASA study has revealed that the mass gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.
The new study showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.
Lead author Jay Zwally of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center believes that it might only take a few decades for Antarctica's growth to reverse.
For the research, Zwally and his team used meteorological data beginning in 1979 to show that the snowfall in East Antarctica actually decreased by 11 billion tons per year during both the European Remote Sensing (ERS) and NASA 's Earth Observing System periods (ICESat).
They also used information on snow accumulation for tens of thousands of years, derived by other scientists from ice cores, to conclude that East Antarctica has been thickening for a very long time.
Zwally's team found that the mass gain from the thickening of East Antarctica remained steady from 1992 to 2008 at 200 billion tons per year, while the ice losses from the coastal regions of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula increased by 65 billion tons per year.
Zwally said that the good news was that Antarctica was not currently contributing to sea level rise, but was taking 0.23 millimeters per year away.
However, he said that if the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that was not accounted for.
The study is published in the Journal of Glaciology.