The situation is extremely dramatic: Glaciers around the world have shrunk by 2% in ten years, losing 2,720 gigatons of ice. Mountain glaciers are an essential source of fresh water for human activities, and their melting contributes to sea level rise more than that of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
The situation has been documented by the European Space Agency's CryoSat satellite, and highlights once again how the climate crisis and global warming are negatively changing our planet. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used data collected by CryoSat with a radar altimeter that measures the height of ice surfaces.
The world's glaciers have decreased by 2% in 10 years
While the instrument is perfect for measuring the height of sea ice and ice caps, it is too crude for monitoring mountain glaciers. However, the researchers managed to develop a new data processing technique that allowed them to be refined to obtain detailed information even on complex frozen terrain.
They found that mountain glaciers lost 2% of their volume between 2010 and 2020. This equates to 2,720 gigatons. The researchers explained: "This can be imagined as a giant ice cube, bigger than the tallest mountain in Europe, which is quite shocking.
We also found that the air temperature, which causes the ice surface to melt, is responsible for 89% of this loss. The remaining 11% is instead attributable to the warming of the oceans that lap and melt the front of those glaciers that reach the coast." The data, collected between 2010 and 2020, were analyzed thanks to a new technique by researchers from the British company Earthwave and the University of Edinburgh, who publish the results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
We recall that the World Meteorological Organization's annual report also found that the global average temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees above the 1850-1900 average, and the years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest since instrumental recording began in 1850.
In addition, the melting of glaciers and sea level rise, which reached record levels again in 2022, will continue for thousands of years.