Led by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, an international team of glaciologists used a combination of different numerical models to calculate the ice thickness distribution and the ice volume of some 215,000 glaciers around the world. The researchers excluded sea ice and glaciers that are connected to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from their calculations.
According to the study, the combined ice volume of all considered glaciers currently amounts to some 158,000 cubic kilometres (km3). The last available estimate -- dating a few years ago -- was around 18 percent higher. The largest glacier ice masses (some 75,000 km3) are found in the Arctic and account for almost half of the global glacier ice volume. They include glaciers in both the Canadian and the Russian Arctic -- such as those found on Baffin Island and the Novaya Zemlya archipelago -- as well as glaciers along the Greenland coast and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.
Alaska - High - Mountain - Asia - Region
Together with Alaska, High Mountain Asia (that is the region including the Himalaya, the Tibetan Plateau and the mountains in central Asia) is home to the largest ice masses outside the Arctic, accounting for a volume of 7,000 km3 in total. The study indicates that previous calculations overestimated this volume by almost a quarter.
"In light of these new calculations, we have to assume that glaciers in High Mountain Asia might disappear more quickly than we thought so far," says Daniel Farinotti, Professor of Glaciology at the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) at ETH Zurich and at the WSL.
Researchers - Area - Glaciers - Region
Previously, researchers had estimated that the area covered by glaciers in this region would halve by the 2070s.This is now expected to happen in the 2060s...
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