The rate of loss fell from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year in 2017, with potentially disastrous consequences.
The rate at which ice is disappearing around the world corresponds to “worst case scenarios of global warming,” British scientists have warned in new research.
A team from the universities of Edinburgh, Leeds and University College London said the speed at which ice is melting in the polar regions and mountains of the world has increased markedly over the past 30 years.
Using satellite data, experts found that the Earth had lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017.
The rate of loss fell from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017, with potentially disastrous consequences for people living in coastal areas, they said. declared.
“Ice caps are now following the worst global warming scenarios defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),” said Thomas Slater, researcher at the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds .
“Rising sea levels on this scale will have very serious effects on coastal communities during this century.”
The contribution of the United Nations IPCC has been essential in developing international strategies on climate change, including the 2015 Paris Agreement under which the majority of greenhouse gas emitting countries agreed to take action to mitigate the effects of global warming.
University research, published in the European Union’s geoscience journal, The Cryosphere, was the first of its kind to use satellite data.
He has studied 215,000 mountain glaciers around the world, polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, ice shelves floating around Antarctica, and sea ice drifting in the Arctic and Southern Oceans.
Losses in the Arctic and Antarctic
The study found that the largest losses over the past three decades have come from the Arctic sea ice and Antarctic ice shelves, both of which float in the polar oceans.
While such loss of ice does not directly contribute to sea level rise, its destruction prevents the ice caps from reflecting solar radiation and thus indirectly contributes to sea level rise.
“As sea ice shrinks, more solar energy is absorbed by the oceans and the atmosphere, causing the Arctic to warm faster than anywhere else on the planet,” said Isobel Lawrence, researcher at the University of Leeds
“Not only does this accelerate the melting of sea ice, but it also worsens the melting of glaciers and ice caps, which causes sea levels to rise,” she added.
An earlier study published in the US-based journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that global sea level could rise two meters (6.5 feet) by the end of this century due to the global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
The report also says that in a worst-case scenario, global temperatures would warm by more than five degrees Fahrenheit (nine degrees Fahrenheit), causing the water to rise, displacing millions of people living in coastal areas.
Another study, published in 2019 by US-based Climate Central, said up to 300 million people could be affected by devastating flooding by 2050, about three times more than previously. valued. The number could grow to 630 million by 2100.
The study warned that key coastal cities such as Mumbai in India, Shanghai in China and Bangkok in Thailand could be submerged over the next 30 years.
According to research, around 237 million people threatened by rising sea levels live in Asia alone.