Two separate studies have suggested that most of the world’s glaciers including the ones in Western Canada, United States and Central Europe will be gone by the turn of the century at the current rate of temperature rise the Earth is experiencing.
University of Zurich Studies World Glaciers
On a research published in Nature journal on April 8, 2019, University of Zurich’s Michael Zemp reported that 9,000 billion tons of glacier ice have melted down from 1961 until 2016. This massive loss of ice is equivalent to the size of the US at a thickness of 4 feet, or the size of Germany at a thickness of 100 feet.
The team of Zemp gathered data from over 19,000 glaciers around the world, which includes 450 field visits and data from satellite observations. The data they gathered are far more numerous than previous studies, which only accounts for 500 glaciers. This suggests that glacier loss rate previously reported may be far more serious in reality.
The research stated that the meltdown from 1961-2016 accounts for a 27 millimetre rise in sea levels or about 25-30% of the overall increase in global sea levels. Further, the study stated that 335 billion tons of ice melts from glaciers each year. This figure translates to nearly 1 millimeter rise in sea level yearly.
The Alps is Foreseen to Vanish
Meanwhile, on a report published in the journal The Cryosphere, Dr. Harry Zekollari and his team from the Delft University of Technology said that the Alps mountain region is set to experience profound meltdown of ice level in the coming decades even if the target of less than 2○C global temperature rise is maintained.
Dr. Zekollari warned that even if governments take urgent measures to cut down emission of greenhouse gasses dramatically, about 2,000 or half of the total glaciers located in the Alps will vanish come the middle of the century. This figure will even reach up to two-thirds by the turn of 2100.
Aside from alarming rising sea levels, glacier ice loss can destabilize mountain ranges. Glaciers are an important water reservoir for nearby households and communities, which could mean loss of water source for them and their agricultural activities.