Earth Lost Over 28 Trillion Tons of Ice Between 1994-2017

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More evidence of climate change from greenhouse gas emissions comes from the rapid acceleration of melting glaciers, which saw 28 trillion tons of ice melt between 1994 in 2017 – and scientists say it’s speeding up.

60% of Earth’s melting ice happening in the Northern hemisphere

Ice from the world’s glaciers is melting extraordinarily fast and the rate is speeding up, says a team of scientists from the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh, and Imperial College London, The Independent reported in late August 2020.

The researchers studied the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, glaciers across the world, and Arctic and Antarctic sea ice and ice shelves, where they say 28 trillion tons of ice has melted.

During those same years, researchers say, the melting ice contributed to as much as a 3.5-centimeter rise in global sea levels.

“The thing which is most cause for concern is the [melt] rate we’ve calculated is accelerating,” Dr. Isobel Lawrence, a research fellow at the University of Leeds and a co-author of the study, told The Independent. “In the two decades since the 1990s, we’ve seen this estimate go up from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion tonnes of ice a year, so that’s a 57 percent increase in one decade.”

In 1910, when US President Taft created Glacier National Park in Montana, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. Now, there are fewer than 30, with those that remain having shrunk in area by two-thirds their original size, National Geographic reports. Some predict that most, if not all, of the glaciers in the park will disappear within 30 years if the current rate of climate change continues.

The melt of Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers cause sea rise

“If that [current decrease rate] continues, which it’s expected to because emissions are continuing to rise, then all of this melt is going to continue to accelerate,” Lawrence continued. “That has consequences for sea level rise. Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers are grounded ice, so their melt contributes to sea level rise.”

Glaciers are giant rivers of ice found on 10 percent of the total land area of Earth, Live Science reports. The majority of these are found in the Arctic and Antarctica regions. The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland are made up of glacier ice from glaciers that flows out to sea. The ends of these glaciers float on water as ice shelves. Those that break off form icebergs.

“The melt of sea ice and ice shelves doesn’t contribute to sea level rise because they float on water, and about 54 percent of ice is floating and 46 percent is grounded, so it means roughly half of the losses we’ve estimated are directly adding to sea level rise,” Lawrence added.

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Written by
Mary Newman
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Written by Mary Newman