World’s Glaciers Out of Balance
Earth’s glaciers are seriously out of balance with the global climate and are already on their way to losing almost 40% of their volume. That is the assessment of scientists after studying a representative group of 144 small and large glaciers around the world. Their figures assume no further warming of the climate. However, if temperatures continue to rise as models predict, the wastage will be even higher, the team says.
A glacier is in balance when the snow at higher, colder elevations equals the volume of snow and ice lost through melting at lower, warmer elevations. If precipitation is greater, the glacier will increase its mass; if melting dominates, the glacier will thin and retreat. The research team says its assessment of the glacier sample indicates climate conditions have changed so fast that many ice bodies have not had time yet to fully adjust. This means a certain amount of mass loss is already locked into the system even if there is no further warming.