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Webinar: Earth’s ice imbalance

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Wednesday, 31 March 2021, 12:00

Wednesday, March 31, 2021. 12:00 PM. Webinar: Earth’s ice imbalance. Tom Slater, University of Leeds. Sponsored by NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) Science Seminar Series. More information here.

We combine satellite observations and numerical models to show that Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017. Arctic sea ice (7.6 trillion tonnes),Antarctic ice shelves (6.5 trillion tonnes), mountain glaciers (6.1 trillion tonnes), the Greenland ice sheet (3.8 trillion tonnes), the Antarctic ice sheet(2.5 trillion tonnes), and Southern Ocean sea ice (0.9 trillion tonnes) haveall decreased in mass. Just over half (58 %) of the ice loss was from the northern hemisphere, and the remainder (42 %) was from the southern hemisphere. The rate of ice loss has risen by 57 % since the 1990s - from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year - owing to increased losses from mountain glaciers, Antarctica,Greenland, and from Antarctic ice shelves. During the same period, the loss of grounded ice from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and mountain glaciers raised the global sea level by 34.6 ± 3.1 mm. The majority of all ice losses were driven by atmospheric melting (68 % from Arctic sea ice, mountain glaciers ice shelf calving and ice sheet surface mass balance), with the remaining losses (32 % from ice sheet discharge and ice shelf thinning) being driven by oceanic melting. Altogether, these elements of the cryosphere have taken up 3.2% of the global energy imbalance.

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