Earth is now losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year. And it’s going to get worse.

January 26, 2021 ☼ climate

Source: The Washington Post - Link

Global ice loss has increased rapidly over the past two decades, and scientists are still underestimating just how much sea levels could rise, according to alarming new research published this month.

From the thin ice shield covering most of the Arctic Ocean to the mile-thick mantle of the polar ice sheets, ice losses have soared from about 760 billion tons per year in the 1990s to more than 1.2 trillion tons per year in the 2010s, a new study released Monday shows. That is an increase of more than 60 percent, equating to 28 trillion tons of melted ice in total — and it means that roughly 3 percent of all the extra energy trapped within Earth’s system by climate change has gone toward turning ice into water.

There is good reason to think the rate of ice melt will continue to accelerate. A second, NASA-backed study on the Greenland ice sheet, for instance, finds that no less than 74 major glaciers that terminate in deep, warming ocean waters are being severely undercut and weakened.

And it asserts that the extent of this effect, along with its implications for rising seas, is still being discounted by the global scientific community.

Failing to fully account for the role of ocean undercutting means sea-level rise from the ice sheets may be underestimated by “at least a factor of 2,” the new paper in the journal Science Advances finds.

This is scary stuff.