The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest single mass of ice on Earth.It covers an area of almost 14 million square km and contains 30 million cubic km of ice.
Around 90 percent of the fresh water on the Earth's surface is held in the ice sheet, an amount equivalent to 70 m of water in the world's oceans.
In East Antarctica, the ice sheet rests on a major land mass, but in West Antarctica the bed can extend to more than 2500m below sea level.
The land would be seabed if the ice sheet were not there.
Ice enters the sheet through snow and frost and leaves by calving of icebergs and melting, usually at the base but also sometimes at the surface at warm sites.
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