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EGU 2012: glaciers playing catch-up set to lose 40% of their ice

By Liz Kalaugher

For the world’s glaciers and ice caps to catch up with the temperatures of the last ten years, they need to lose 38% of their ice volume, on average, and 30% of their area. That’s equivalent to 228 mm of sea-level rise over the next few decades, even without any additional climate change, according to Sebastian Mernild of Los Alamos National Laboratory, US, who presented his work at the EGU 2012 meeting in Vienna.

Mernild studied the mass balance of 124 glaciers and 19 icecaps worldwide, using three averaging methods. The results compared well with earlier studies, which incorporated fewer glaciers, he said.

In Central Europe, Svalbard and Greenland, glaciers and ice caps were more out of balance with their surroundings than the global average. Mernild reckons that glaciers in the Alps are likely to lose most of their mass by 2100.

If recent climate trends continue, by around 2040 glaciers and ice caps will lose at least half of their volume.

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