09 Feb 2012:
Glaciers, Ice Caps Losing
150 Billion Tons of Ice Annually
A new analysis of global satellite data has found that the world’s glaciers and ice caps — excluding Antarctica and Greenland — lost about 150 billion tons of ice per year
between 2003 and 2010, adding about 0.4 millimeters to global sea rise annually. Using data from the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder compiled what they say is the most comprehensive data on planetary ice loss. The satellites, which are part of a joint project between NASA and Germany, travel around Earth in tandem 16 times a day and are capable of sensing subtle variations in the planet’s mass
and gravitational pull. While the new calculations are significantly lower than earlier land-based studies, the researchers say the findings still show that the planet’s ice is melting and causing sea levels to rise. “The Earth is losing an incredible amount of ice to the oceans annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet’s cold regions are responding to global change,” said John Wahr, a physics professor at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature
. During the same time period, ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland, including their peripheral ice caps and glaciers, was about 385 billion tons of ice annually.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
A 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner captures stunning images of wild salmon runs in Alaska. Watch the video.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.