We calculate new estimates of ground-ice stability and the depth distribution of the ice table (the depth boundary between ice-free soil above and ice-cemented soil below) and compare these theoretical estimates of the distribution of ground ice with the observed distribution of leakage neutrons measured by the Neutron Spectrometer instrument of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft's Gamma Ray Spectrometer instrument suite. Our calculated ground-ice distribution contains improvements over previous work in that we include the effects of the high thermal conductivity of ice-cemented soil at and below the ice table, we include the surface elevation dependence of the near-surface atmospheric humidity, and we utilize new high resolution maps of thermal inertia, albedo, and elevation from Mars Global Surveyor observations. Results indicate that ground ice should be about 5 times shallower than in previous predictions. While results are dependent on the atmospheric humidity, depths are generally between a few millimeters and a few meters with typical values of a few centimeters. Results are also geographically similar to previous predictions with differences due to the higher resolution of thermal inertia and the inclusion of elevation effects on humidity. Comparison with the measured epithermal-neutron count rates in the southern hemisphere indicate that the geographic distribution of the count rate is best correlated with ground ice in equilibrium with 10 to 20 pr μm (precipitable micrometers) column abundance of atmospheric water, assuming a uniform distribution with CO 2; however, given the uncertainties, 5 to 30 pr μm also may be viable. This water abundance represents a longer-term average over 100 to 1000 yr. There is a high degree of correlation between the depth of the ice table and the epithermal count rate that agrees remarkably well with predicted count rates as a function of ice-table depth. These results indicate that ground ice in the upper meter of the martian soil is in diffusive equilibrium with the atmosphere. Since ground ice in this depth zone is expected to undergo saturation/desiccation cycles with orbital variations, this ice should be younger than about 500 kyr and was emplaced under similar cold and dry climate conditions of today. Remaining differences between the predicted depths of the ice table and those inferred from the neutron data are likely to be due to subpixel heterogeneity in the martian surface including the presence of rocks, slopes, and patches of soil with varying thermophysical properties.