4 out of 5 glaciers projected to disappear by 2100, study finds
A study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found that 80 per cent, or 4 out of every 5 glaciers, would likely disappear by the end of this century at current climate change trends. The findings showed that the world's glaciers are shrinking and disappearing faster than scientists previously thought and in the coming years, that could be a key contributor to sea level rise, a threat to the millions of people living near the coastlines.
But if the world manages to fulfil international goals and meet the best-case climate scenario, technically possible but unlikely according to several experts, less than half the globe's glaciers will move towards extinction, the study concluded. Well-known and small glaciers will be the first to go extinct, the authors of the study stated.
The study examined all of the world's 215,000 land-based glaciers, except the ones on ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, with the help of computer simulations that calculate, using different levels of warming, how many glaciers could disappear and how much it would contribute to sea level rise.
Projected glacial mass loss by 2100 ranges from 38.7 trillion metric tonnes to 64.4 trillion tonnes, which depends on several factors including how much the globe warms and how much coal, oil and gas is burned.
Since the world is currently on track for a 2.7-degree Celsius (4.9-degree Fahrenheit) temperature rise since pre-industrial times, we could be losing 32 per cent of the world’s glacier mass or 48.5 trillion metric tonnes of ice by 2100. This means that about 68 per cent of the glaciers might disappear by the end of this century.
The study calculates that all that melting glaciers can raise the world’s sea level anywhere from 90mm (3.5 inches) in the best-case scenario to 166mm in the worst-case scenario, which is an increase of four per cent to 14 per cent to previous projections. The study’s lead author David Rounce confirmed that the sea level can rise by 115 millimetres (4.5 inches) in present scenarios.
Researchers also stated that future sea level rise will be driven more by melting ice sheets than glaciers. And, added that the loss of glaciers is about more than just rising seas. It means increased risk from flood events, shrinking water supplies and losing historic ice-covered spots from Alaska to the Alps to the area near Mount Everest’s base camp.