A new scientific survey has determined, with an unequalled accuracy, that all except one of the ice sheets in the world are losing huge amounts of their mass. Greenland and Antarctica alone are losing more than three times as much ice as they were in the 1990s; and since 1992 the total amount of ice the two regions have lost has led to an 11 millimetre rise in sea levels.
Ian Joughin, co-author of the study and senior principal scientist at the Polar Science Center Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington, said that, “as the climate warms, we’re going to lose more mass and the losses will be higher by the end of the century.”
He also admitted that exact extrapolations for how quickly the ice will melt are still difficult to create with any degree of reliable accuracy. “From any 20-year record, and this 20-year record in particular, we just can’t at this point extrapolate. But we can see that the trend is towards increases, and that that’s something we do need to worry about,” he said.
The results of this study are described as being twice as accurate as the Nobel Peace Prize-winning 2007 IPCC climate report, and are viewed as the clearest evidence yet that the Earth’s polar regions are warming.
The study was compiled by 47 scientists from 26 different institutions using 50 years’ worth of data from 10 different satellites. The several types of data used were carefully re-processed so that they could be combined and compared directly, as the Popular Science magazine put it, “ensuring they were comparing apples with apples,” something that had never been done before.
Satellite lasers and radar were used to measure the height of the ice caps, whilst other instruments were used to measure the gravitational influence of the ice sheets on the surrounding area. Global positioning satellites were used to determine movements as small as a millimetre a year, and nuclear physical calculations were used to examine the change within rocks in order to determine how long they had been in the sun as opposed to buried beneath ice.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com