According to a new study, more than 28 trillion tons of ice have vanished from Earth in the last 26 years. The number was shared by a team of researchers who analyzed satellite imagery of the poles, mountains, and glaciers with the aim to observe the effect of global warming.
While expectations were high, the amount of ice that was lost is surprising, and it is estimated that the level of the sea will grow by one meter by the end of the century.
It is estimated that even an increase of one centimeter is enough to force some people to leave vulnerable areas. The rapid rate at which ice is melting can also hinder the planet’s ability to reflect the heat from the sun back into space, as uncovered soil and the dark sea will absorb more heat.
It is also worth noting that melting glaciers and ice sheets release freshwater that can disrupt the ecosystems found in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. The melting of glaciers located on mountains can lead to floods and a lack of freshwater for local populations.
The amount of lost ice is on par with the predictions for the worst-case scenario elaborated by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. All of the regions which have been surveyed during the study have faced extreme reductions in the last three decades, and they will continue to lose ice at a rapid pace.
Global warming is the primary cause of the loss of ice, as the average planetary temperature has risen by 0,85 degrees Celsius since 1880, a trend that has been amplified in the polar regions. Despite early warnings from the scientists in the 1990s, the emission of greenhouse gases continued.
It is expected that the global temperature will continue to grow in the following decades.