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Glaciers lose nine trillion tonnes of ice in half a century

09 April 2019

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When we think of climate change, one of the first things to come to mind is melting polar ice. However, ice loss isn't just restricted to the polar regions. According to research published today, glaciers around the world have lost well over 9000 gigatonnes (nine trillion tonnes) of ice since 1961, raising sea level by 27 mm.

An international team led by the University of Zurich in Switzerland used classical glaciological field observations combined with a wealth of information from various satellite missions to painstakingly calculate how much ice has been lost or gained by 19 different glacierised regions around the world.

Their research, published in Nature, reveals that glaciers lost 9625 gigatonnes of ice between 1961 and 2016.

The largest regional losses were in Alaska, followed by glaciers around the edge of the Greenland ice sheet and from glaciers in the southern Andes. Significant amounts of ice were also lost from glaciers in the Canadian and Russian Arctic, as well as from Svalbard.

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