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The World’s Largest Ice Sheets are Melting at an Unprecedented Rate
A recent report brings more bad news for the future of the human race on Earth, as the world’s two largest ice sheets are melting faster than ever before. On Wednesday the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany released a new report that shows the ice sheets in western Antarctica and Greenland are melting at their fastest rate since observations began – and contributing to sea level rise twice as fast as they were five years ago.
The Alfred Wegener Institute‘s report is based on data from the European Space Agency’s CrysoSat 2 satellite. “When we compare the current data with those from the ICESat satellite from the year 2009, the volume loss in Greenland has doubled since then. The loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has in the same time span increased by a factor of three. Combined, the two ice sheets are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometres per year,” glaciologist and study co-author, Prof. Dr. Angelika Humbert said in a press release. “That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago.”
At the same time, the study shows the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is actually gaining some mass, but it’s not enough to make up for the ice being lost elsewhere in Antartica and Greenland. According to the Huffington Post, Greenland is losing 350 cubic kilometers of ice annually – mostly from its southwestern coast, which accounts for almost 75 percent of the total volume of ice lost each year.
How does if affect you? If you live on the coast, sea level rise is bad news according to Robert Bidschadler of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which did a similar recent study for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Rising sea level is widely regarded as a current and ongoing result of climate change that directly affects hundreds of millions of coastal dwellers around the world and indirectly affects billions more that share its financial costs,” Bidschadler said in a press release. And in case you didn’t know; it’s our fault. Another study in the journal Science places the blame for glacial melt squarely on the shoulders of human-caused climate change.
Via Huffington Post
Images via Alfred Wegener Institute
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