New shocking findings unveil the worst-case scenario Earth is currently facing. The global cryosphere is now shrinking more than previously believed and climate change is the only culprit.
The new research is the first to release a global estimate of Earth’s surface covered by sea ice, frozen ground, and snow.
Here is what you need to know.
Earth’s Cryosphere Threatened by Climate Change
Earth’s cryosphere shrank by approximately 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) annually, between 1979 and 2016, as per new research’s findings.
The cryosphere contains about three-quarters of Earth’s freshwater. In some mountainous areas, diminishing glaciers put water supplies in danger.
Previous research features loss of Arctic sea ice, shrinking ice sheets and vanishing snow cover. However, the Earth’s cryosphere has never been examined as much as now.
A team of researchers led by Xiaoqing Peng, a physical geographer at Lanzhou University, measured the daily extent of the cryosphere. Then, they averaged the results and figured out some new annual estimates. The findings are genuinely intriguing.
Researchers discovered that the average area covered by the cryosphere had shrunk overall since 1989, matching the increasing air temperatures.
“The cryosphere is one of the most sensitive climate indicators and the first one to demonstrate a changing world; [it represents] a major global change, rather than regional or local issue,” explained Peng.
Other significant details
Furthermore, the team split up Earth’s surface into a grid system to adapt their global estimate of the extent of the cryosphere. How they did that?
They needed existing data sets of global snow cover, sea ice extent, and frozen soil. What’s up next is truly intriguing.
Then, they classified each cell in the grid as part of the cryosphere, to find out if it comprised one of the three parts.
Finally, the team succeeded in measuring the extent of Earth’s cryosphere daily, monthly, and annually to see how it transformed over the last three decades.