Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017, proving that the ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenario.
A study conducted by the University of Leeds in England found that ice is disappearing from across the planet at a rapid pace. A first of a kind, the study revolved around a survey of global ice loss using satellite data.
The study suggests that the rate of ice loss from the Earth has increased markedly over the past three decades, from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017.
Meanwhile, there has been a 65 per cent increase in the rate of ice loss. This has been mainly driven by a steep rise in the loss of polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
Researchers noted that the melting of ice across the globe raises sea levels increasing the risk of flooding in coastal communities while also threatening to wipe out natural habitats that are home to wildlife.
“Although every region we studied lost ice, losses from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have accelerated the most,” said the study’s lead author Thomas Slater, a Research Fellow at Leeds University.
“The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century,” Slater added.
In addition, the findings of the study also indicate that a rise in temperatures in the atmosphere and oceans triggered the increase in ice loss. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed by 0.26 and 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade since 1980, respectively.
“Sea ice loss does not contribute directly to sea-level rise but it does have an indirect influence. One of the key roles of Arctic sea ice is to reflect solar radiation back into space which helps keep the Arctic cool,” said Isobel Lawrence, a Research Fellow at Leeds.
“As the sea ice shrinks, more solar energy is being absorbed by the oceans and atmosphere, causing the Arctic to warm faster than anywhere else on the planet,” Lawrence added.