Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Observations of grounding zones are the missing key to understand ice melt in Antarctica

Ice melt processes that take place at the ice–ocean boundary of Greenland and Antarctic glaciers play a pivotal role in their evolution and contribution to sea-level rise, but widespread observations in these regions are lacking. A major observational initiative will be necessary to drastically reduce uncertainties in projections and better prepare society for sea-level rise.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Observations of ice-shelf cavities required to understand ice melt.
Fig. 2: Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica, photographed by NASA Operation IceBridge in 2018.


  1. Fox-Kemper, B. et al. in Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (eds Masson-Delmotte, V. et al.) Ch. 9 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021).

  2. Golledge, N. et al. Clim. Past 13, 959–975 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aschwanden, A. et al. Cryosphere 15, 5705–5715 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dutrieux, P. et al. Science 343, 174–178 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Holland, D. M. et al. Nat. Geosci. 1, 659 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Wood, M. et al. Sci. Adv. 7, eaba7282 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Joughin, I., Smith, B. E. & Medley, B. Science 344, 735–738 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Dorschel, B. et al. Nature Sci. Data 9, 275 (2022).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Milillo, P. et al. Sci. Adv. 5, eaau3433 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Parizek, B. P. et al. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surface 118, 1–18 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Seroussi, H. & Morlighem, M. Cryosphere 12, 3085–3096 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. DeConto, R. et al. Nature 593, 83–89 (2021).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hallegate, S. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 802–806 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Robel, A., Wilson, E. & Seroussi, H. Cryosphere 16, 451–469 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Warburton, K., Hewitt, D. & Neufeld, J. Geophy. Res. Lett. 47, e2020GL089088 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Ciraci, E. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 120, e2220924120 (2023).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eric Rignot.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rignot, E. Observations of grounding zones are the missing key to understand ice melt in Antarctica. Nat. Clim. Chang. 13, 1010–1013 (2023).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing