The Arctic is on track to lose more ice this century than at any point since the end of the Ice Age. Photos show the dramatic melting.
Sea ice at the North and South Poles has shrunk dramatically over the last 30 years.
Melting sea ice doesn’t contribute to sea-level rise, but it has been linked to increased storminess on the US East Coast and changes in jet-stream patterns.
Changing weather patterns caused by sea-ice loss may also cause more El Niño storms in the Pacific Ocean.
Melting sea ice affects Arctic animals like polar bears. A 2018 study found that polar bears in the region have been losing weight during late spring and early summer, when they should be packing on pounds to prepare for winter.
Land ice is also melting at an unprecedented rate: The two biggest ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland are losing about 427 billion metric tons of ice per year.
From 1941 to 2004, Alaska’s Muir Glacier retreated 7 miles while its thickness decreased by 2,625 feet.
Greenland is losing about 234 billion tons of land ice per year.
Greenland’s ice melt might even have played a role in the death of climate scientist Konrad Steffen.
Melting land ice goes into the ocean, where it causes sea levels to rise.
Greenland’s Helheim Glacier, for instance, is sliding into the sea at a rate of 5 miles per year.
Worldwide, sea levels could rise 10 to 12 feet by 2120 if global emissions continue unabated.
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