(ORDO NEWS) — For the first time, climatologists have traced how all the ice caps of the Earth have been shrinking over the past 26 years. It turned out that during this time the rate of their reduction increased by 65%. The research results were published in the scientific journal Cryosphere.
“The rate of ice cover reduction in Antarctica and Greenland is in line with the worst-case scenarios predicted by the models of the independent experts of the United Nations (IPCC). If this trend continues, sea level rise will become a problem this century,” said one of the study authors, a climatologist from Lida University (UK) Thomas Slater.
Slater and his colleagues analyzed observational data and climate model results that spanned between 1994 and 2017. Scientists have calculated how the total mass of ice on Earth has changed over the past three decades, and also evaluated the role of various factors in the reduction of ice cover.
It turned out that during this time the rate of ice loss increased sharply. From 0.8 trillion. tons per year for 1990, it grew to 1.3 trillion. tons in the last three years.
Most of this acceleration, more than 60% of the losses, turned out to be associated with an increase in air temperature. Most of all, this affected the glaciers of Greenland and Antarctica, which during this time have lost more than 3.8 and 6.5 trillion. tons of mass. Almost as strongly this process affected mountain glaciers, the mass of which decreased by 6.1 trillion tons. In total, during this time, the Earth’s glaciers have lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice.
These losses, especially the shrinking sea ice, could accelerate the melting of the Earth’s ice caps, as these glaciers reflected large amounts of sunlight and heat, preventing them from warming up the waters of the oceans. Scientists hope that further observations of this process will help them assess how much it will affect the rate of melting of mountain and polar ice massifs.
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