Glaciers at the breaking point



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Glaciers at the breaking point

Not only is the Arctic ice sheet melting, but also the Antarctic one and all the Alpine glaciers in the world, from those of the Alps to the Himalayas. The 2019 report on the state and change of the cryosphere in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region predicts that the volumes of some glaciers could decrease by up to 90% over the 21st century in response to reduced snowfall, increased height of the snow limit and longer melting seasons.

In the Pamir a loss of about 45% is expected by 2100, while in the eastern Himalayas it could reach an almost total loss of glaciers (from -63.7 to -94.7%). The melted snow will pour into the rivers, eventually reaching the sea.

Even the Antarctic ice sheet, considered less vulnerable to climate change due to its enormous size, could soon reach a point of no return. If the entire Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would raise sea level by 52 meters.

Glaciers at the breaking point

The Response of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to past and future climate change study published in Science has shown that, beyond 2100, high-emission scenarios would lead to about 5 meters of sea level rise in a few centuries.

More than 600 million people live in coastal areas less than 10 meters above sea level. 600 million people who, if the scenarios became reality, would find themselves displaced. From 2000 to 2019, the Greenland ice sheet lost 3.3% of its volume of ice that was discharged into the ocean.

Since we will not stop burning fuels for energy today, it is very likely that continuous greenhouse gas emissions will raise sea levels by a few meters during this warm 21st century. This is what emerged from the Greenland ice sheet climate disequilibrium and committed sea-level rise study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, which used satellite measurements of ice losses from Greenland to create medium-term forecast models.

The 27 centimeters, however, are an extremely conservative estimate. In general, ice sheets and mountain glaciers are melting at alarming rates, causing a considerable rise in sea levels.