From Antarctica to the Arctic, the world’s ice is melting faster than ever, according to a new global satellite survey that calculated the amount of ice lost from a generation of rising temperatures.
Between 1994 and 2017, the Earth lost 28 trillion metric tons of ice, the survey showed. That is an amount roughly equivalent to a sheet of ice 100 meters thick covering the state of Michigan or the entire U.K.—and the meltwater from so much ice loss has raised the sea level just over an inch or so world-wide, the scientists said.
“It’s such a huge amount it’s hard to imagine it,” said Thomas Slater, a research fellow at the U.K.’s University of Leeds Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and the lead author of a paper describing the new research. “Ice plays a crucial role in regulating the global climate, and losses will increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as flooding, fires, storm surges and heat waves.”
The paper was published Monday in the European Geophysical Union’s journal the Cryosphere.
Adding up the loss from glaciers, ice shelves, polar ice caps and sea ice, Dr. Slater and his colleagues determined that the rate of global melting has accelerated 65% since the 1990s.