Chennai: A new research has found that Earth’s ice is melting faster today than in the mid-1990s, as climate change nudges global temperatures ever higher.
Altogether, an estimated 28 trillion metric tons of ice have melted away from the world’s sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers since the mid-1990s.
The study published in the journal, The Cryosphere, stated that annually, the melt rate is now about 57 per cent faster than it was three decades ago.
“It was a surprise to see such a large increase in just 30 years,” said co-author Thomas Slater, a glaciologist at Leeds University in Britain.
While the situation is clear to those depending on mountain glaciers for drinking water, or relying on winter sea ice to protect coastal homes from storms, the world’s ice melt has begun to grab attention far from frozen regions, Slater noted.
Aside from being captivated by the beauty of polar regions, “people do recognise that, although the ice is far away, the effects of the melting will be felt by them,” he said.
The melting of land ice on Antarctica, Greenland and mountain glaciers added enough water to the ocean during the three-decade time period to raise the average global sea level by 3.5 centimeters. Ice loss from mountain glaciers accounted for 22 percent of the annual ice loss totals, which is noteworthy considering it accounts for only about one per cent of all land ice atop land, Slater said.
Across the Arctic, sea ice is also shrinking to new summertime lows. Last year saw the second-lowest sea ice extent in more than 40 years of satellite monitoring. As sea ice vanishes, it exposes dark water which absorbs solar radiation, rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere. This phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, boosts regional temperatures even further.
The global atmospheric temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. But in the Arctic, the warming rate has been more than twice the global average in the last 30 years.
Calculating even an estimated ice loss total from the world’s glaciers, ice sheets and polar seas is a really interesting approach, and one that’s actually quite needed, said geologist Gabriel Wolken with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.