Earth’s ice is melting at a rate 57% higher than it was three decades ago – and 28 trillion tons of ice have already melted away, new research has warned.
Land ice in Antarctica, Greenland and in mountain glaciers has added enough water to the ocean during the past three decades to add 3.5cm to sea levels worldwide.
Mountain glaciers accounted for 22% of ice loss totals, despite accounting for only about 1% of land ice, the research found.
In the Arctic, sea ice is shrinking to new summertime lows – with last year seeing the second-lowest sea ice extent in more than 40 years of satellite monitoring.
The research was published in the journal The Cryosphere.
Read more: Antarctic records hottest temperature ever
As sea ice vanishes, it exposes dark water which absorbs solar radiation, rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.
This phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, is reducing Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation back into space.
The global atmospheric temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.
But in the Arctic, the warming rate has been more than twice the global average in the last 30 years.
Using 1994–2017 satellite data, site measurements and some computer simulations, the team of British scientists calculated that the world was losing an average of 0.8 trillion metric tons of ice per year in the 1990s, but about 1.2 trillion metric tons annually in recent years.
The South Pole, the most remote place on the planet, has warmed three times faster than other areas over the past three decades, researchers say.
Research published in Nature Climate Change found that an abrupt shift has seen temperatures rocket upwards at the pole from 1989.
Since that point, temperatures at the pole have risen 0.6 degrees per decade, three times the rate for the rest of the planet.
Researchers believe that the high temperatures are being fuelled not just by a rise in greenhouse gases, but also by natural weather shifts in the tropics.
Record breaking high temperatures are being fuelled by increases in greenhouse gases – and natural weather shifts in the tropics, say scientists.
The ‘double whammy’ sheds light on why Antarctica is bearing the brunt of climate change.
Dr Kyle Clem of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said: “These trends were unlikely the result of natural climate change alone.
“The effects have likely worked in tandem to make this one of the strongest warming trends on Earth.”
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