Global warming is shrinking glaciers faster than thought
Global warming is shrinking glaciers faster than thought In this Feb. 7, 2016 file photo, tourists walk past waterfalls at the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand. (AP Photo/Nick Perry/AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
Global warming is shrinking glaciers faster than thought
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Earth's glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought - a new study shows they are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America.

The most comprehensive measurement of glaciers worldwide found that thousands of inland masses of snow compressed into ice are shrinking 18 percent faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013.

The world's glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s, with  their melt accelerating due to global warming, and adding more water to already rising seas, the study found.

"Over 30 years suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time," said lead author Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich. "That's clearly climate change if you look at the global picture."

The glaciers shrinking fastest are in central Europe, the Caucasus region, western Canada, the U.S. Lower 48 states, New Zealand and near the tropics. Glaciers in these places on average are losing more than 1 percent of their mass each year, according to a study in the journal Nature.

"In these regions, at the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century," Zemp said.

Zemp's team used ground and satellite measurements to look at 19,000 glaciers, far more than previous studies. They determined that southwestern Asia is the only region of 19 where glaciers are not shrinking, which Zemp said is due to local climate conditions.

The study found that, since 1961, the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of ice and snow (9.6 trillion metric tons), enough to cover the lower 48 U.S. states in about 4 feet of ice.

Scientists have known for a long time that global warming caused by human activities like burning coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation is making Earth lose its ice. They have been especially concerned with the large ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.

This study, "is telling us there's much more to the story," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who wasn't part of the study. "The influence of glaciers on sea level is bigger than we thought."

A number of factors are making sea levels rise, but the biggest cause is that oceans are getting warmer, which makes water expand. The new figures show glacier melt is a bigger contributor than thought, responsible for about 25% to 30% of the yearly rise in oceans, Zemp said.

Rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and put more people at risk of flooding during storms.

Glaciers grow in winter and shrink in summer, but as the Earth has warmed, they are growing less and shrinking more, and Zemp said warmer summer temperatures are the main reason glaciers are shrinking faster.

While people think of glaciers as polar issues, shrinking mountain glaciers closer to the equator can cause serious problems for people who depend on them, said Twila Moon, a snow and ice data center scientist who also wasn't part of the study. She said people in the Andes, for example, rely on the glaciers for drinking and irrigation water each summer.

A separate study in Environmental Research Letters confirmed faster melting and other changes in the Arctic and it found that in winter, the Arctic is warming 2.8 times faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Overall, the region is getting more humid, cloudier and wetter.

"It's on steroids, it's hyperactive," said lead author Jason Box, a scientist for the Danish Meteorological Institute.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/global-warming-shrinking-glaciers-faster-thought/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do you think it's important that we study melting glaciers?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • Audreys-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:13 a.m.

    The fact that earth's icecaps have been melting for several years and we are just starting to notice and take action to solve this worldwide problem is proof that its important to study melting glaciers. This natural disaster can cause many coastal city's to flood after mild tropical storms, which when this happens progress in our nation and other coastal city's slows down dreadfully. Also, the ice burgs surrounded the equator are many person's natural water source, but when the glaciers began to melt the water source slowly starts to abate. Our youth studying melting glaciers will gently urge them to make a change and save the world.

  • KristynK-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:13 a.m.

    It is very important that we study melting glaciers. So we can study more about why they are melting. As we all know, there are several reasons the glaciers are melting and will continue to melt as the years go on. Mainly because of man made problems such as burning coal, gasoline, and diesel for electricity. Over time these types of things have built up and made irreversible problems. As a whole we need to look into these problems and hopefully find a solution.

  • Dashan-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:13 a.m.

    There are many reasons to study melting glaciers . Based on the text 'Global Warming is Shrinking Glaciers Faster than we thought' glaciers are shrinking very much due to the climate change, at this rate glaciers may be gone by the end of this century. Also according to the article glaciers are caused by global warming which is caused by human activities such as our ways of transportation. This means if us humans do not start to change our actions there will no longer be any glaciers.

  • SaraiC-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:14 a.m.

    There are many reasons as to why it's important that we study glaciers. One of the many reasons we should study glaciers is because they are melting faster than we thought they would and they could end up flooding many places. Another reason is also because we are the main reasons the glaciers are melting faster. According to the article it states that "in the 1960's people predicted they would melt slower but ended up melting 5 times more." also stated by the article explains "global warming is caused by human activities that contains heat." In conclusion we need to study glaciers so that we don't destroy our earth.

  • Allisonm-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:15 a.m.

    The importance of studying glaciers sends humans a precaution before it is too late. The articles states, "A number of factors are making sea levels rise, but the biggest cause is that oceans are getting warmer, which makes water expand," The rise in heat which causes icebergs to melt, is causing a domino effect. An abundance of heat is causing icecaps to melt, then as the ice melt the water level grows, as the bodies of water get warmer and expand. The article goes on to state, "...global warming caused by human activities like burning coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation is making Earth lose its ice," Therefore, being informed of the causes and consequences melting glaciers gives us humans a place to start on slowing down global warming.

  • KaylaC-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:16 a.m.

    Studying glaciers is important for us to study because glaciers benefit people in many ways and if we don't study them to find out how to stop them from melting then these people will do very poorly in life. For example, in the article Twila Moon said that in the Andes the glaciers help the people as a source for drinking water and irrigation water. If we don't study glaciers and attempt to figure out a solution for their rapid melting then these people will soon be left without a source for drinking and irrigation water.

  • KailyI-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:17 a.m.

    Studying about melting glaciers is important because it can not only disappear in a few years, but we can also learn how to prevent this from happening. We should learn about this because in a few years maybe they won't exist anymore. Another reason is that we can study melting glaciers and learn how they can harm us and how we can prevent that from happening.

  • Maddisong-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:17 a.m.

    It is explained that glaciers are beginning to melt quicker than scientists thought. It is causing rapid sea level growth and it is predicted that they will not survive for the next century. It is extremely important that scientists study these melting glaciers because many organisms benefit from them and most importantly, threaten the lives of the organisms and people. According to the passage, "mountain glaciers closer to the equator can cause serious problems for people who depend on them...for example, rely on the glaciers for drinking and irrigation water each summer." If they continue to melt at this fast pace, the people in the surrounding area that benefit from the glaciers would possibly have a more difficult time getting by. Their crops might fail during the summer, and drinking water would become scare. Additionally, the passage also shows that "Rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and put more people at risk of flooding during storms." Flooding alone effects the environment negatively. With the extra water, it would be even worse. In conclusion, melting glaciers should be carefully studied because of the non-beneficial effects it has on the environment and the organisms that live in it.

  • Braedynl-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:19 a.m.

    Explaining why it is important that we study melting glaciers is simple. One reason that studying melting glaciers is important is that many people use the glaciers for drinking water. For example it says in the text "people in the Andes, for example, rely on the glaciers for drinking and irrigation water each summer." meaning that Andes people really depend on these glaciers and need them. In conclusion studying melting glaciers is important because some people need glaciers for drinking water.

  • Laceyg-aer
    8/09/2019 - 09:19 a.m.

    I believe we should study glaciers because the glaciers that melt are the home of many species and if there home melts then the animals that are inhabiting the area will have less room which as a limiting factor it will kill them. And that can cause a mountain of effects, the animals eating the ones on the glacier will have less food and might die and so on until it creates the animal to go extinct.

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