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Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tonnes Of Ice In Less Than 30 Years

by : Cameron Frew on : 23 Aug 2020 17:09
Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tonnes Of Ice In Less Than 30 YearsEarth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tonnes Of Ice In Less Than 30 YearsPA Images

In less than 30 years, Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice. 

The planet’s ice has long been under threat from global warming, as rising greenhouse gas emissions contribute to rising sea levels and hotter temperatures across the globe.

Following recent shocking research in Greenland, UK scientists have unveiled Earth’s total loss of ice since 1994: a terrifying 28 trillion tonnes.

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Greenland Record Ice MeltGreenland Record Ice MeltPA Images

Researches from Leeds and Edinburgh universities, as well as University College London, analysed satellite imagery of poles, mountains and glaciers over the past 26 years to ascertain the level of melting the planet has endured.

Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, told The Guardian

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 all the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet. What we have found has stunned us.

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Ice of Sayram Lake starts melting in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regionIce of Sayram Lake starts melting in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regionPA Images

Due to melting glaciers and ice sheets across the world, the researchers estimated that sea level rises could top a metre by the end of the century – matching the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s predictions – with Shepherd adding: ‘To put that in context, every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands.’

Due to the level of melting, Earth’s capability of reflecting solar radiation back to space is faltering – when ice melts, darker ice is exposed beneath which absorbs more heat. This, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions, contributes further to climate change.

Melting glaciers pouring fresh water into Arctic and Antarctic waters also pose a risk to the area’s biological health, with the disappearance of mountain range ice wiping out local communities’ source of fresh water.

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Tom Slater, also from Leeds University, added: ‘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 metres thick. It’s just mind-blowing.’

Greenland IceGreenland IcePA Images

In the group’s paper, published in the Cryosphere Discussions journal, the researchers noted: 

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.

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Between 1980-89, the Earth’s temperature rose by 0.14C, with an increase of 0.2C in subsequent decades. Following research which showed Greenland to lose one million tonnes of ice every minute in 2019, researchers have urged once again that we must reduce CO2 emissions.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Climate Change, Earth, Environment, Global Warming, ice, melting, Science, Sea Levels

Credits

The Guardian and 1 other
  1. The Guardian

    Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice in less than 30 years

  2. Cryosphere Discussions

    Review Article: Earth's ice imbalance