The melting of Antarctica’s ice is carefully monitored as it can have an
effect on the world’s sea level. If the West Antarctic ice sheet were
to melt, global seas would rise by 15 to 20 feet. If the East sheet were
to melt as well, seas would rise by as much as 200 feet, swamping many
oceanic islands and redrawing the world's coastlines.
The difference between the accumulation rate (snowfall) and the rate
of melting controls what is known as the ice sheet’s "mass balance."
Changes in this balance can be related to natural changes in temperature
but are also being linked to human-induced global warming.
Video: British Antarctic Survey
Text: British Antarctic Survey and WGBH Educational Foundation