Melting away: Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017

The loss is equivalent to a 100-metre thick sheet of ice covering the whole of the UK, according to new research

The Big Zero report

The Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017, which is equivalent to a sheet of ice 100 metres thick covering the whole of the UK.

That’s the staggering estimate of new research by the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh, University College London and data science specialists Earthwave, which suggests the ice loss rate has increased by 65% over the 23-year survey.

The satellite data, on which the report was based, shows the rate of ice loss has increased within the past three decades, from 0.8 trillion tonnes every year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017.

The findings of the research, which were published in the European Geosciences Union’s Journal ‘The Cryosphere’, suggest the change has been mainly driven by rises in losses from the polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

The Arctic sea lost an estimated 7.6 trillion tonnes of ice and Antarctic 6.5 trillion tonnes, as a result of the rising ocean and atmospheric temperatures, according to the study.

Lead Author Dr Thomas Slater, a Research Fellow at Leeds’ Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, said: “The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century.”

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