New Delhi: Scientists report that the seven worst years for polar ice sheets melting and losing ice have occurred during the past decade with 2019 being the worst year on record. Combining 50 satellite surveys of Antarctica and Greenland taken between 1992 and 2020, the international team of researchers have found that the melting ice sheets now account for a quarter of all sea level rise, a fivefold increase since the 1990’s.
The team was led by Northumbria University’s Centre for Polar Observations and Modelling, UK, and their findings are published today in the journal Earth System Science Data. In their study, the researchers have found that Earth’s polar ice sheets lost 7,560 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2020, which is equivalent to an ice cube that would be 20 kilometres in height. They also found that the polar ice sheets have together lost ice in every year of the satellite record, and the seven highest melting years have occurred in the past decade.
Also Read: India’s Fight Against Climate Change Will Unite Whole World As One Family: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla
The satellite records showed that 2019 was the record melting year when the ice sheets lost a staggering 612 billion tonnes of ice. They said that the loss, driven by an Arctic summer heatwave, led to record melting from Greenland peaking at 444 billion tonnes that year. Antarctica was found to have lost 168 billion tonnes of ice, the sixth highest on record, due to the continued speedup of glaciers in West Antarctica and record melting from the Antarctic Peninsula. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet was found to remain close to a state of balance, as it had throughout the satellite era.
Melting of the polar ice sheets has found to cause a 21 millimetres (mm) rise in global sea level since 1992, almost two thirds, or 13.5 mm, of which has originated from Greenland and one third, or 7.4 mm, from Antarctica.
The researchers say that there has been a fivefold increase in melting since the early 1990’s. While ice sheet melting accounted for only a small fraction, 5.6 per cent, of sea level rise then, they are now responsible for more than a quarter, 25.6 per cent, of all sea level rise.
If the ice sheets continue to lose mass at this pace, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted their contribution to be between 148 and 272 mm to global mean-sea level by the end of the century. Andrew Shepherd, professor and Head of the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Northumbria University, said,
After a decade of work we are finally at the stage where we can continuously update our assessments of ice sheet mass balance as there are enough satellites in space monitoring them, which means that people can make use of our findings immediately.
Lead researcher Ines Otosaka from the University of Leeds, said,
Ice losses from Greenland and Antarctica have rapidly increased over the satellite record and are now a major contributor to sea level rise. Continuously monitoring the ice sheets is critical to predict their future behaviour in a warming world and adapt for the associated risks that coastal communities around the world will face.
Also Read: Global Goal Of Reaching Net Zero By 2050 Requires Enhanced Descaling Of Emissions By Developed Countries: Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.