The analysis, completed by researchers from the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh and University College London, is based on satellite observations and numerical models. The findings also reveal that sea-level rises could reach a meter by the end of the century.
“To put that in context, every centimeter of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” said Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, who was also involved in the study, the Guardian reported.
The scientists also warned that the melting of ice in such large quantities is reducing the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation into space. As a result, the sea and soil underneath the ice is absorbing additional heat, which further contributes to the overall warming of the planet.
Around 54% of the ice loss occurred among sea ice and ice shelves, while 46% melted from glaciers and ice sheets on the ground.
“In the past researchers have studied individual areas – such as the Antarctic or Greenland – where ice is melting. But this is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet,” Shepherd noted. “What we have found has stunned us.”
In fact, the study found that the rate of ice loss has increased by 57% since the 1990s from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion metric tons per year. The ice loss mostly occurred among glaciers in South America, Asia and Canada, as well as from ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland.