Before you do anything else, the EPA presents, very effectively, the issues here

MELTING ICE & SNOW

MELTING ICE & SNOW

Melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have a direct and profound impact on sea-level rise.

Greenland’s ice sheet is losing mass about six times faster than it was a few decades ago. In the past fifty years, the sheet has already shed enough to add about half an inch of water to the world’s oceans. In just this last summer’s heat wave, meltwater — equivalent to over 4 million swimming pools — sloughed into the ocean in a single day.

Antarctica, that frigid expanse of land at the Earth’s Southern pole, is covered by 90% of the planet’s ice. If all of its ice were to melt, sea levels would rise by 190 feet. It is melting at an alarming rate, with the rate of thaw tripling over the past decade and losing 2.71 trillion tons of ice between 1992 and 2017 with half of these losses occurring in the past five years, shrinking to record low levels

Melting ice is not limited to the poles and is happening around the world: Alaska’s sea ice has all melted; the glaciers of the Himalayas are melting twice as fast as they were in 2000; the Patagonian icefields are a fraction of their previous size. Iceland marked its first loss of a glacier to climate change with a funeral, and the Swiss followed suit with a funeral for the Pizol glacier in the Alps. 

And, then there is our own ice melt.

Diana Six, an entomologist at the U. of Montana, recently returned from a trip to Montana’s Glacial National Park, where the 97/98˚heat had decimated the ice. In despair, she said, “I don’t think people realize that climate change is not just a loss of ice. It’s all the stuff that’s dependent on it. The water is too warm for the fish. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks but they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked. There have been total losses of a lot of baby birds this year. You see these ospreys and eagles sitting on top of the trees in their nests and those young, they just can’t take the heat.”

CREDIT: ICN

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Ice Sheets

01/29/22
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing significant amounts of land-based ice as a result of human-caused global warming. Data from NASA's GRACE and GRACE Follow-On satellites show that the land ice sheets in…

Five Facts to Help You Understand Sea Ice

10/20/21
One way that scientists monitor climate change is through the measure of sea ice extent. Sea ice extent is the area of ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at a given time. Sea ice plays…

Climate Change Indicators: Snow and Ice

05/18/21
The Earth’s surface contains many forms of snow and ice, including sea, lake, and river ice; snow cover; glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets; and frozen ground. Climate change can dramatically alter the Earth’s snow-…

New Study Identifies Mountain Snowpack Most “At-Risk” from Climate Change

03/01/21
CPO-funded scientists theorize why snowpack in coastal regions, the Arctic, and the Western U.S. may be among the most at-risk for premature melt from rising temperatures

Polar Tales: The Future of Ice, Life, and the Arctic (2020)

02/24/21
The Arctic is the ground zero of climate change, and the polar bear is on the front line. Filled with groundbreaking photography that reveals the breathtaking landscapes of the Arctic and the transformations of the…

Antarctica: The Waking Giant (2020)

02/24/21
Winner of three 2020 International Photography Awards and named Photographer of the Year from the Tokyo International Awards, explorer Sebastian Copeland's stunning photography delivers unparalleled access to the least explored continent on Earth and galvanizes…

Rate of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet will exceed Holocene values this century

10/08/20
The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is losing mass at a high rate1. Given the short-term nature of the observational record, it is difficult to assess the historical importance of this mass-loss trend.

Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula

10/01/20
First Peninsula-wide assessment of biological sensitivity to recent warming.

The Ice at the End of the World (2019)

03/28/20
A riveting, urgent account of the explorers and scientists racing to understand the rapidly melting ice sheet in Greenland, a dramatic harbinger of climate change.

Operation IceBridge mission

09/10/19
NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth's polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system.

MORE NEWS

Exclusive photos: A giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica

By Brian Clark Howard   11/08/18  
As the plane approached low over the enormous expanse of white, excited scientists crowded to the windows, cameras in hand. Their instruments had warned them that something special was about to emerge from the bleak…

As the Antarctic Peninsula heats up, the rules of life there are being ripped apart

By Craig Welch   11/01/18  
Dion Poncet came of age in a place almost no one calls home. He was born on a sailboat in Leith Harbour, an abandoned whaling station on South Georgia island. His father, a French adventurer,…

Water stuck in Glaciers May Change Sea Level Predictions

By Danielle Torrent Tucker-Stanford   10/24/18  
Researchers have discovered water stored within a glacier in Greenland. The water storage has been a missing component for models aiming to predict how melting glaciers will affect the planet.

NASA has Discovered Arctic Lakes Bubbling with Methane

By Hannah Osborne   09/13/18  
Last month NASA released footage showing the bubbling Arctic lakes, which are the result of a little known phenomenon called “abrupt thawing.” It occurs when the permafrost—ground that has been frozen for potentially thousands of…

Sweden’s highest point set to lose title as glacier melts

By Agence France-Presse   08/01/18  
Sweden’s highest peak, a glacier on the southern tip of the Kebnekaise mountain, is melting due to record hot Arctic temperatures and is no longer the nation’s tallest point, scientists said on Wednesday. “I’ve never…

Rising ground under West Antarctica could prevent ice sheet collapse

By Andrew Freedman   06/21/18  
Previous research has shown that enough ice has already melted to trigger a potentially irreversible melt of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which would sharply increase sea levels worldwide. Now, though, A new study finds…

Sea level rise due to Antarctic ice melt has ‘tripled over past five years’

By Daisy Dunne   06/13/18  
The rate of sea level rise resulting from the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has tripled over the past five years, according to new research from a global team of scientists.

Disappearing Arctic sea ice

03/15/18  
Arctic sea ice has not only been shrinking in surface area in recent years, it’s becoming younger and thinner as well. In this animation, where the ice cover almost looks gelatinous as it pulses through…

In Alaska’s Thawing Permafrost, Humanity’s ‘Library Is on Fire’

01/25/18  
Archaeologists who work in the Arctic, like Anne Jensen, have a metaphor for what is happening there from global warming. The Library of Alexandria was the most famous site for cultural knowledge and history in…

Without Reliable Snow, Dogsledders Turn to Dryland Racing

By Anna Belle Peevey   12/22/17  
Northern Wisconsin is still a frigid place come winter, but as the state has warmed, the certainty of snow has gradually vanished, leaving the traditional winter dogsledding races frequently canceled for lack of good powder.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf Collapse Is Just the Beginning—Antarctica Is Melting

By Douglas Fox   06/14/17  
The massive iceberg that broke off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.

Antarctica turning green as climate change takes hold, says scientific study

By David Reid   05/19/17  
In people’s minds, Antarctica may appear as a bleak white landscape but scientists claim the continent is turning green because of a warming in the climate. A team of British researchers have tested three separate…

Images of Melt: Earth’s Vanishing Ice

By Stephanie Pappas   11/29/12  
The midnight sun glows off an iceberg in Disko Bay, Greenland. Icebergs calving into the sea are a major source of Greenland's ice loss.

Melting beauty: The Patagonian icefields

By Kathryn Hansen  Visuals by Jesse Allen   07/11/18  
Forests, grasslands, deserts, and mountains are all part of the Patagonian landscape, which spans more than a million square kilometers (about 386,000 square miles) of South America. Toward the western side, expanses of dense, compacted…

Resilient Local Coral May Help Save Tropical Relatives

By Todd McLeish  Photo: ecoRI News   10/11/19  
A Rhode Island scientist is co-leading a collaborative effort to determine if New England’s only hard coral species — a variety that can survive bleaching — could provide a solution to the coral bleaching problem…

I am a diver who documents climate change in the Arctic. And I am running out of time

By Jill Heinerth  Photo: Jill Heinerth   10/06/19  
I am grateful for the opportunity to preserve images of this endangered kingdom, but what will happen to the people and animals of the North?

What Worries Iceland? A World Without Ice. It Is Preparing.

By Liz Alderman  Photo: Suzie Howell for The New York Times   08/09/19  
From the offices of the fishing operation founded by his family two generations ago, Adalsteinn Ingólfsson has watched the massive Vatnajökull glacier shrink year after year. Rising temperatures have already winnowed the types of fish…

On a journey to Antarctica, a New Orleans chef awakens to the threat of melting ice

By Carolyn Beeler   05/28/19  
Jack Gilmore, 23, had never left the US before he worked on a research vessel as a cook during a two-month expedition to Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica this past winter.