CREDIT: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko Gentoo penguins stand on rocks on the Antarctic peninsula. Forty-nine billion tons of ice (nearly 45 billion metric tons), is lost here a year according to NASA.
by Samantha Page Aug 5, 2015 1:02pm
A century’s worth of data. That’s how much researchers looked at for a new study — which showed that the world’s glaciers are melting faster than scientists think they ever have before, and that even if global warming stopped today, they would continue to melt. The observations show that “the rates of early 21st-century [glacial] mass loss are without precedent on a global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history,” according to the study from the World Glacier Monitoring Service, based in Zurich. The study, published last week in the Journal of Galciology, looked at more than 5,000 measurements since 1850. The melting is speeding up. Glaciers are now losing mass twice as fast as they were in the period from 1901-1950, three times as fast as in the period from 1851-1900, and four times as fast as in the period from 1800-1850, the researchers found. And the glaciers will continue to recede, even if global temperatures stabilize, the study’s lead author, Michael Zemp, told Climate News Network. “Due to the strong ice loss over the past few decades, many glaciers are too big under current climatic conditions. They simply have not had enough time to react to the climatic changes of the past,” he said. In other words, the Earth’s glaciers are melting to keep up with temperature changes that have already occurred. “In the European Alps, many glaciers would lose about 50 percent of their present surface area without further climate change,” Zemp said….