The animation below shows that Antarctic mass loss is focused along the Amundsen Sea coast, which looks like a hot spot to the GRACE gravity satellites, courtesy of NASA.
Is observed ice loss in West Antarctica linked to climate change? Is it extraordinary? We can't evaluate this without paleoclimate context from ice, rock, sediment archives. @ericsteig & my take in @NatureComms: https://t.co/TiNHkJ44Ze #oa #openaccess pic.twitter.com/2QcLIRabDu— Peter Neff (@peter_neff) July 16, 2018
Because #ThwaitesGlacier loses ice mass in such a focused area, this reduces how much its gravity pulls on the ocean; causes greater "far-field" sea level rise. North American coasts get hit particularly hard... #CSSR #NCA4 https://t.co/CQgyT6kkJL pic.twitter.com/4QzWFLW7AH— Peter Neff (@peter_neff) April 30, 2018
As Antarctic ice flows out to the ocean, it begins to float (just like ice in your drink) forming a fringe of ice shelves around the continent.
These ice domes provide stability points for this floating ice, and also contain layers of old snow and ice that can tell us about climate. The image below and to the right is a radargram taken by NASA Operation IceBridge flying over Wright Island. The radar pass is marked with a dotted line on the aerial image.
Image courtesy Polar Geospatial Center, check them out for more archival US Navy aerial photos.
For now, all we can do is study these airborne data, but one day we hope to get feet on the ground and recover shallow ice cores from ice domes across the Pacific coast of West Antarctica. This will improve our understanding of the outsize influence that the Pacific Ocean has on climate and ice dynamics in Antarctica, and will better allow us to anticipate future sea-level rise coming from this ice mass.