Scientists working at Leeds and Edinburgh Universities and the University College London recently released a review paper that revealed data taken from surveys of the world’s glaciers, mountains, and ice sheets between the years 1994 and 2017. The information revealed a “staggering” loss in ice throughout the Earth’s many natural ice formations.
Professor Andy Shepherd is the director of Leeds University’s Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, and recently spoke with the press about this dramatic loss in ice, and rising in sea levels as a result.
“Melting glaciers and ice sheets could cause sea levels to rise dramatically, possibly reaching 3 feet by the end of the century.”
The loss in ice is the least of scientists worries, it’s more about the direct, and indirect, effects of that melting that could have a detrimental impact on the planet and its billions of inhabitants. One of the biggest concerns is a major disruption in biological health within the waters of the Arctic and Antarctica. Loss in health in these waters specifically can reduce Earth’s overall ability to reflect solar radiation back into space so it doesn’t heat the planet too much.
These findings perfectly match up with the “worst-case-scenario” predictions that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined. According to Shepherd this is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that has/is disappearing from the planet; previously studies would only map large cool areas such as Greenland or the Arctic exclusively.
“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.”
Shepherd went on in the report itself to state that there is “little doubt” that the vast majority of this ice loss is a direct result of climate change. The report was released one week after scientists working at Ohio State University discovered that the ice sheet covering Greenland may have “passed the point of no return” in regards to how melted it is.
The Greenland melting is due to a lack in annual snowfall; which is also a result of global warming. The rate at which it snows every year in Greenland isn’t enough to keep up with the pace at which the ice is melting throughout the rest of the year. This means that Greenland’s ice sheet will keep melting and losing ice even if climate change is somehow reversed in the next few years.
Scientists are worried about Greenland specifically because its ice sheet is considered the world’s second-largest body of water, therefore if it melts, sea levels will rise to an unfathomable level. According to a NASA study 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded on Earth; which isn’t a shock to most, but the results are now starting to come to life.
This is why the election in November is so important, as climate change has been a major point of contention among Republicans and Democrats since the term “global warming” was initially created. If you’re a US resident and have yet to register, or aren’t sure where you’re specifically registered, you can check that status here.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.