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Global rate of ice loss has increased by 65% in just two decades

The rate at which ice is disappearing across the planet is speeding up, according to a new report published by researchers at the University of Leeds. 

According to the report, which used satellite data to survey the rate of global ice loss, the Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017, this is equivalent to a sheet of ice 100 metres thick covering the whole of the UK.

The scientists found that the rate of ice loss has increased significantly within the past few decades, from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017.

This equates to a 65% increase in the rate of ice loss over the 23-year survey period.

According to the researchers, this has been mainly driven by rising atmospheric temperatures which have caused a decline in Arctic sea ice and mountain glaciers across the globe.

The researchers have highlighted that these findings are extremely concerning, and have estimated that for every centimetre of sea-level rise, approximately a million people are in danger of being displaced from low-lying homelands.

Lead author of the study, Dr Thomas Slater, a Research Fellow at Leeds’ Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, said: ‘Although every region we studied lost ice, losses from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have accelerated the most.

‘The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century.

‘Over the past three decades, there’s been a huge international effort to understand what’s happening to individual components in Earth’s ice system, revolutionised by satellites which allow us to routinely monitor the vast and inhospitable regions where ice can be found.

‘Our study is the first to combine these efforts and look at all the ice that is being lost from the entire planet.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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