Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting rapidly and driving sea level rise, new satellite data finds

According to recent research, the Earth’s ice sheets have lost enough ice over the past 30 years to form an ice cube 12 miles high.

According to a research released on Thursday by a group of international experts, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which house almost all of the world’s freshwater ice, are disappearing at an unnervingly quick rate.

Scientists from the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise, or IMBIE, were able to monitor changes in the ice sheets’ volume and ice flow by combining data from 50 satellite surveys of Antarctica and Greenland, covering the years 1992 to 2020.

They discovered that as record pollution levels have raised global temperatures over the past 30 years, the melting of the ice sheets has multiplied six-fold.

All seven of the years with the greatest polar ice sheet melting occurred during the last ten years.

According to the analysis, the polar ice sheets lost more than 8.3 trillion tons of ice overall between 1992 and 2020.

According to the study, the ice sheets lost almost 675 billion tons of ice in 2019, which was the worst year for ice sheet loss. An Arctic heatwave, which caused Greenland’s ice sheet to lose 489 billion tons of mass, was the primary cause of these losses.

According to the paper, the melting of the ice is having a substantial effect on the oceans, raising sea levels by 21 millimeters (just under an inch). Since the 1990s, there has been a fivefold increase in the amount of sea level rise attributed to ice sheet melting.

“This is a huge amount of ice,” said Inès Otosaka, the study’s principal author and a research fellow at the University of Leeds, to CNN. Since 40% of the world’s population resides in coastal regions, this is obviously a highly concerning situation, she added.

Scientists discovered that although the Antarctic ice sheet’s rate of melting has slowed, it is still happening far more quickly than it did in the 1990s.

The research identified the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica as the areas where the majority of the continent’s melting was taking place. West Antarctica is home to the troublesome Thwaites Glacier, sometimes known as the “Doomsday” glacier due to its potentially disastrous effect on sea level rise.

While the future of the Antarctic ice sheet is still uncertain, Otosaka predicts that the Greenland ice sheet will continue to lose ice.

“In Antarctica, the future is more uncertain,” she remarked.If we surpass a particular threshold of warming, “we have some low-probability but high-impact mechanisms that could be triggered.”

That might result in a future sea level increase that is significantly higher, she continued.

According to Otosaka, some warming thresholds could set off significant and possibly irreversible feedback mechanisms.

To prevent further warming and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, she continued, “Our government needs to implement strong policies.”

The polar ice sheets are melting as a result of climate change, raising sea levels and endangering coastal communities all around the world, according to a statement from the European Space Agency, which funds IMBIE’s research with NASA.

IMBIE scientists want to revise the evaluation each year.

“We are finally at the stage where we can continuously update our assessments of ice sheet mass balance as there are enough satellites in space monitoring them, which means that people can make use of our findings immediately,” said Andrew Shepherd, a professor at Northumbria University and the organization’s founder.

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