Glaciers are melting faster than ever before, and with that, comes the double whammy of floods & water shortage

By: |
May 04, 2021 5:45 AM

The Leeds study had found that the world has lost a whopping 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017—for perspective, that is over 1.2 trillion tonnes of ice lost per year over a little more than two decades, while the ice-loss figure was 800 billion tonnes till then.

With time having almost run out on any meaningful reversal of climate change, the focus now has to be to on mitigation and shifting to a lower warming trajectory than the one we are currently on.

The world’s glaciers are melting at faster rate than before—putting densely-populated parts of the world (especially in Asia) at the twin-risk of flooding and water shortage. A new study says the global ice-cover lost a whopping 300 billion tonnes of ice per year from 2015 to 2019, a 30% increase in the rate of melting compared with the 2010-2014 period.

Earlier this year, University of Leeds researchers had found that the shrinking of the world’s ice was following the worst-case climate scenario outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That should have set off klaxons on climate action; while some meaningful gain has been made with US president Joe Biden’s recent climate announcements, it is nowhere near enough and the Trump years show that climate announcements are remain subject to the vagaries of electoral politics.

The Leeds study had found that the world has lost a whopping 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017—for perspective, that is over 1.2 trillion tonnes of ice lost per year over a little more than two decades, while the ice-loss figure was 800 billion tonnes till then.

Thanks to rising air temperatures as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rise, the loss of ice from land has been sharp—while this constitutes just 1% of global ice, it accounts for a quarter of the planet’s ice-loss since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, this melting is a double-whammy since it raises ocean temperatures and multiply the loss of marine-terminating glaciers and sea-ice. Combined losses of ice have led to a 1.3-inch rise in sea levels. With time having almost run out on any meaningful reversal of climate change, the focus now has to be to on mitigation and shifting to a lower warming trajectory than the one we are currently on.

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