To measure how much of the planet’s ice cover has melted due to global warming, scientists from the Universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and University College London analyzed satellite surveys of mountains, glaciers and poles. Their conclusion is more than worrying: since 1994, a total of 28 trillion tons of ice have disappeared from the earth’s surface.
In various media reports, the scientists describe the massive loss of ice as shocking and say there is little doubt that global warming caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for the loss of ice.
“Worst case to be assumed”
“In the past, researchers have studied individual areas - such as Antarctica or Greenland - where the ice melts. But this is the first time that anyone has looked at all the ice disappearing from the entire planet,” Professor Andy Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, told The Guardian. “What we found amazed us.” The results presented by the group of scientists are in accordance with the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the worst case to be assumed.
Scientists examined satellite images of glaciers in South America, Asia, Canada and other regions. They also sifted images of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, ice sheets covering the soil in Antarctica and Greenland, and ice sheets protruding from the Antarctic mainland into the sea. The investigations cover the period between 1994 and 2017.
According to the researchers, all the regions studied have suffered a devastating decline in ice cover over the past three decades. losses that would continue.
Scientists issue warnings again
The research group explains in its analysis that the sea level rise caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets could reach one meter by the end of the century. “To put this into context, every inch of sea level rise means that about a million people are displaced from low-lying home countries,” says Shepherd.
The scientists also warn that melting such a lot of ice seriously affects the planet’s ability to reflect the solar radiation back into space. The white ice disappears and the dark sea or the dark ground below it absorbs more and more heat, which further increases the warming of the planet.
In addition, the cold fresh water emanating from melting glaciers and ice signs causes disturbances in the biological health of Arctic and Antarctic waters. On the other hand, the loss of glaciers in mountain ranges threatens to wipe out the fresh water springs on which many people depend.
“Direct consequence of global warming”
As to the cause of the dizzying ice loss, the scientists come to a clear conclusion: “There is little doubt that the vast majority of ice loss on Earth is a direct consequence of global warming,” they write in a paper published in the online journal “Cryosphere Discussions”. “On average, the surface temperature of the planet has risen by 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880, and this tendency has been further intensified in the polar regions.” As a result, both sea and atmospheric temperatures have risen, causing the immense losses of ice.
In the case of the melting ice sheet in Antarctica, rising sea temperatures are the main drivers, while rising atmospheric temperatures have been the cause of the loss of ice from inland glaciers such as those in the Himalayas. In Greenland, the loss of ice was caused by a combination of rising sea and air temperatures.
The scientists stress that not all the ice lost during the period studied contributed to the rise in sea level. “A total of 54 per cent of the lost ice comes from sea ice and ice cream,” Isobel Lawrence, a researcher at the University of Leeds, told The Guardian. These sponge on the water and their melting did not contribute to the rise in sea level. The other 46 percent of the meltwater, on the other hand, came from glaciers and ice sheets on the ground and had a direct impact on sea level rise.
Coal emissions are still rising
The results of the British scientists were published 30 years after the first evaluation report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As early as the end of 1990, it made it very clear that global warming is real and is triggered by the increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.
Despite all the warnings that scientists and scientists have issued in the meantime, these emissions – as well as global temperatures – continue to rise. According to figures from the UK’s National Meteorological Service, the Met Office, global temperatures rose by 0.14°C between the decade 1980-1989 and the decade 1990-1999. In the following decades, the temperature then rose by 0.2°C. As carbon emissions continue to increase, this rate of increase is expected to increase in the future.