One of the poignant climate moments of 2019 was a funeral for ice: An August ceremony in Iceland for the nation’s Okjökull glacier. As will be seen in these NASA satellite photos, the glacier declined dramatically between 1986 and 2019.
Mourners remembered the as soon as-massive patch of ice with a plaque. The lack of Okjökull was one among many deeply troubling milestones this decade on the planet’s frozen areas, identified collectively because of the cryosphere. The Arctic particularly is warming twice as fast as the global average and skilled many historic heatwaves. The warming, in flip, is inflicting an unprecedented quantity of melt on this planet’s ice.
The ice sheets on land have essential results on seawater ranges around the globe. If all of the ice on Greenland had been to soften, it could increase world sea ranges by 20 ft. If all of the ice in Antarctica melts down, it will elevate sea ranges by 190 ft.
That’s only for ice on land. The soften of as soon as-frozen waters are threatening vulnerable species, altering circulation patterns within the ocean, and fueling feedback loops that might trigger much more ice to soften.
On this submit, we’ll stroll via a number of the key markers of climate change within the polar areas this decade with visuals, in addition to among the key insights we gained. We discovered that ice is declining at each pole at an accelerating rate the world hasn’t seen in centuries. We are able to see these dramatic adjustments from space now. And we now have a significantly better grasp on what we’ll lose if we don’t sluggish the emissions destabilizing the global climate.
There are two primary classes of ice within the cryosphere. One is the ice that types on land from precipitation: Two-thirds of the planet’s freshwater is frozen in these ice caps, glaciers, and sheets. The opposite is the ice that varieties from freezing the ocean, referred to as sea ice.
The level of sea ice tends to ebb and circulate with the seasons, however over the previous decade, each the highs and lows have gotten decrease.
However, the image is bleaker once we zoom out to an extended time scale: We’re at present within the midst of the fastest decline of Arctic sea ice in 1,500 years.