Scientists have released a report saying they’re stunned by the results as Earth loses 28 trillion tonnes of ice in the space of 30 years.
Data comes from scientists in the UK who say that since 1994, 28 trillion tonnes of sheet ice has melted in the earth’s glaciers, mountains and poles, which they say has been accelerated by the impact of global warming.
“28 trillion tonnes of ice would cover the entire surface of the UK with a sheet of frozen water that is 100 meters thick,” Tom Slater
A group of scientists and researchers at the Universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and College of London have described the loss of ice as “staggering,” and warn that sea levels could rise by as much as one-meter by the turn of the century.
“To put that in context, every centimeter of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” says Professor Andy Shephard, director of the Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.
The researchers added that aside from rising sea levels, a dramatic loss of ice on Earth’s surface hinders its ability to reflect solar radiation away from the surface. With ice melting, this leaves soil, rocks or dark seas to absorb, rather than reflect this radiation which exacerbates the greenhouse effect.
The team of scientists collated satellite data and ice samples from South America, Asia, Canada Antarctica and Greenland between 1994 and 2017.
Professor Shephard continued to explain that “in the past, researchers have studied individual areas – such as the Antarctic or Greenland – where ice is melting. But this is the first time anyone has looked at the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet.”
“What we have found has stunned us,” he said.
According to a report from the Guardian, “the level of ice loss revealed by the group mathes the worst-case-scenario predictions outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Tom Slater of Leeds University has said that “to put the losses we’ve already experienced into context, 28 trillion tonnes of ice would cover the entire surface of the UK with a sheet of frozen water that is 100 meters thick… it’s just mind-blowing,” he said.
The collaborative study has been published online – which you can access here – and warns that “there can be little doubt that the vast majority of Earth’s ice loss is a direct consequence of climate warming.”
“On average, the planetary surface temperature has risen by 0.85C since 1880, and this signal has been amplified in the polar regions,” the authors state.
The study says that Antarctic ice has been melting as a result of rising sea temperatures, while higher ambient temperatures in the Himalayas have caused the majority of glacial melting. The authors say that a combination of rising sea temperatures and higher than normal ambient temperatures have accelerated melting in Greenland.
Slater’s colleague, researcher Isobel Lawrence has said that “a total of 54% of the lost ice was from sea ice and from ice shelves.”
“These float on water and their melting would not have contributed to sea level rises. The other 46% of meltwater came from glaciers and ice sheets on the ground, and they would have added to the sea level rise.”