Warming of the climate is causing a "significant increase" in the accumulation of ice in eastern Antarctica, rather than a depletion as widely predicted, U.S. and Japanese scientists have found.
The report, in the journal Geology, is based on dating layers in sea-floor sediment extracted off Wilkes Land and Prydz Bay, where tongues of continental ice sometimes push far out to sea before breaking off.
A similar finding has been reported by Australian scientists who have measured snow accumulation 60 to 180 miles inland in Wilkes Land. They have found that since 1960, accumulation has been increasing and recently reached 20 percent above the mean since 1806.
The researchers, who reported their findings in the journal Nature, say the buildup should contribute to a slight lowering of global sea level.
Snow accumulation close to the coast, however, may not show what is happening to the whole continent.
It has been assumed that slippage of the western Antarctic ice sheet across the continent into the Ross Ice Shelf and, eventually, into the sea south of the Pacific Ocean may raise world sea levels significantly.
American scientists reported last month in the journal Science, however, that while part of the western Antarctic ice sheet is thinning, elsewhere it is thickening.