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Nature

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

Mayukh Bari24 August 2020 5:07PM IST
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3 min read308

Due to disastrous emissions of greenhouse gas, temperature of our planet increased significantly in the last few decades. A recent research reveals a very disturbing fact about global warming. Scientists have unveiled Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice since 1994.

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. Data shows the Greenland ice sheet is in the middle of its biggest melt season in recorded history.

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

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.

Due to melting glaciers and ice sheets across the globe, the researchers estimated that sea level could rise a metre by the end of the century. And every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from the coastal area all over the planet. 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, local communities now have little access to fresh water.

There can be little doubt that the vast majority of Earth's ice loss is a direct consequence of climate warming. With less amount of ice, Earth's capability of reflecting solar radiation back to space is also decreased. When ice melts, darker ice is exposed beneath which absorbs more heat. This, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions, contributes further to climate change. Tom Slater from Leeds University said,

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.

On average, the planetary surface temperature has risen by 0.85C since 1880, and the polar regions are affected most. Between 1980-89, the Earth's temperature rose by 0.14C, with an increase of 0.2C in subsequent decades. Researchers have urged once again that we must reduce CO2 emissions.

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