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The approach followed within IMBIE consists of inter-comparison experiments to determine the level of agreement between estimates of mass balance derived from radar and laser altimetry, gravimetry and the input-output method before producing a reconciled estimate of mass balance for each ice sheet region.

The project has five experiment groups, one for each of the principal satellite-based mass balance techniques (altimetry, gravimetry, and mass budget) and two others to analyse ancillary data sets (surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment).

For the inter-comparison experiments, we aimed to eliminate the impact of differing dataset coverage by using a common time period and standardised regions. The basic premise for IMBIE is that a meaningful inter-comparison and synthesis of ice sheet mass balance can be accomplished by using individual ice sheet mass balance datasets generated independently by project participants. The data sets are submitted using common spatial and temporal domains, which in turn supports aggregation of the individual datasets. The quality and consistency of data sets included in the assessment is regulated through data standards, documentation requirements, and peer review.