World's glaciers melting faster than ever, study finds - GulfToday

World's glaciers melting faster than ever, study finds


Earth’s glaciers have lost around 4 to 5 per cent of their total volume in the last 20 years. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Glaciers are melting at an accelerated rate, a new large-scale study has confirmed.

They are losing 31 per cent more snow and ice per year than they did 15 years earlier, according to three-dimensional satellite measurements of all the world’s mountain glaciers.

Scientists are pinning it on human-caused climate change.

From 2000 to 2019, the world’s glaciers lost an average of 267 billion tonnes of ice each year — enough to submerge the entire surface area of Switzerland under six metres of water on an annual basis, the research said.

The rate of glacier ice loss has increased by around 30 per cent over the last 20 years, the research suggests.

From 2000 to 2004, Earth’s glaciers lost 227 billion tonnes of ice per year, the study found, but this figure rose to 298 billion tonnes per year between 2015 and 2019.

Over the same period, the annual rate of thinning for glaciers outside of Antarctica and Greenland nearly doubled, the study found, from 36cm a year in 2000 to 69cm a year in 2019.

The findings suggest that Earth’s glaciers have lost around 4 to 5 per cent of their total volume in the last 20 years, the study’s lead author told The Independent.

Almost all the world’s glaciers are melting, even ones in Tibet that used to be stable, the study found.

Except for a few in Iceland and Scandinavia that are fed by increased precipitation, the melt rates are accelerating around the world.

The research, published in the journal “Nature,” is the first to assess how all of the world’s glaciers — nearly 220,000 in total, excluding the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets — are responding to the climate crisis in the 21st century.

Study lead author Romain Hugonnet, a doctoral student at ETH Zurich and the University of Toulouse, told The Independent: “We provide the first estimate of thinning for all individual glaciers on Earth.

“(Our findings show that) we need to act now regarding climate change to avoid a major shift to the global water cycle that will impact heavily populated regions of the world.”

Glaciers — vast rivers of ice that slowly ooze their way across land — are relied upon by many millions for fresh drinking water across the world.

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