Franz Josef glacier landscape, New Zealand

Research published in Nature, based on analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery, has established that during 2000–2019, glaciers worldwide (about 220,000 of them) lost a mass of approximately 267 gigatonnes per year, accounting for about 21% of the observed sea-level rise in that period.

This is over and above ice lost from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Citing this research, Radio NZ reported that New Zealand showed a record glacier thinning rate of 1.5m a year between 2015 and 2019, a nearly sevenfold increase compared to 2000-2004. And moreover, the rate of loss has been accelerating since 2015.

This would seem to confirm what an article in Sciblogs reported last June: “Since the first New Zealand glacier survey in the late 1970s, there’s been a long-term trend of glacial retreat through climate warming. Southern Alps glaciers are estimated to have lost more than 30% of their volume – about 16 billion cubic metres of ice, or the equivalent of about 200 litres a day for each New Zealander over 40 years.”

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