Satellites present world’s glaciers melting sooner than ever

Glaciers are melting sooner, dropping 31 p.c extra snow and ice per yr than they did 15 years earlier, in accordance with three-dimensional satellite tv for pc measurements of all of the world’s mountain glaciers.

Scientists blame human-caused local weather change.

Using 20 years of lately declassified satellite tv for pc information, scientists calculated that the world’s 220,000 mountain glaciers are dropping greater than 328 billion tons (298 billion metric tons) of ice and snow per yr since 2015, in accordance with a research in Wednesday’s journal Nature. That’s sufficient soften flowing into the world’s rising oceans to place Switzerland beneath virtually 24 toes (7.2 meters) of water every year.

The annual soften price from 2015 to 2019 is 78 billion extra tons (71 billion metric tons) a yr than it was from 2000 to 2004. Global thinning charges, completely different than quantity of water misplaced, doubled within the final 20 years and “that’s enormous,” mentioned Romain Hugonnet, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich and the University of Toulouse in France who led the research.

Half the world’s glacial loss is coming from the United States and Canada.

Alaska’s soften charges are “among the highest on the planet,” with the Columbia glacier retreating about 115 toes (35 meters) a yr, Hugonnet mentioned.

Almost all of the world’s glaciers are melting, even ones in Tibet that was once secure, the research discovered. Except for just a few in Iceland and Scandinavia which are fed by elevated precipitation, the soften charges are accelerating world wide.

The near-uniform melting “mirrors the global increase in temperature” and is from the burning of coal, oil and gas, Hugonnet mentioned. Some smaller glaciers are disappearing solely. Two years in the past, scientists, activists and authorities officers in Iceland held a funeral for a small glacier.

“Ten years ago, we were saying that the glaciers are the indicator of climate change, but now actually they’ve become a memorial of the climate crisis,” mentioned World Glacier Monitoring Service Director Michael Zemp, who wasn’t a part of the research.

The research is the primary to make use of this 3D satellite tv for pc imagery to look at all of Earth’s glaciers not related to ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic. Past research both solely used a fraction of the glaciers or estimated the lack of Earth’s glaciers utilizing gravity measurements from orbit. Those gravity readings have giant margins of error and aren’t as helpful, Zemp mentioned.

Ohio State University’s Lonnie Thompson mentioned the brand new research painted an “alarming picture.”

Shrinking glaciers are an issue for tens of millions of people that depend on seasonal glacial soften for each day water and speedy melting could cause lethal outbursts from glacial lakes in locations like India, Hugonnet mentioned.

But the most important risk is sea stage rise. The world’s oceans are already rising as a result of heat water expands and due to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, however glaciers are accountable for 21 p.c of sea stage rise, greater than the ice sheets, the research mentioned. The ice sheets are bigger long term threats for sea stage rise.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that sea level rise is going to be a bigger and bigger problem as we move through the 21st century,” mentioned National Snow and Ice Data Center Director Mark Serreze.

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