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Earth risks losing 40% of glacial mass if it doesn’t give up fossil fuels

A new stark projection warns that more than 40% of Earth’s glacial masses could disappear if humans continue to invest in fossil fuels.

This grim scenario would see more than two-thirds of all glaciers disappear by the end century, which would contribute to rising sea levels.

David Rounce is an assistant professor of civil engineering at Pittsburgh’s College of Engineering and led the international effort to create the new projection.

Even in the best case scenario, Professor Rounce’s research team discovered that nearly 50% of glaciers would disappear by 2100. This is more than 25% of total glacial volume.


An earlier study indicated that 1.5C of global warming was already in the plans for Earth HTML1.

Although most of the glaciers that Professor Rounce has projected are very small, each measuring less than a kilometre squared worldwide, their loss would be significant.

Already, the effects of catastrophic glacier losses are being felt around the world.

Learn more about Climate Change

Last year, Switzerland’s glaciers shrank by half in less that a century. The country’s oldest glacier had to be covered with special white blankets to stop it melting.

The intense thawing of the aircraft has caused so much damage that a Sky News team was able witness a wreckage dating back to 1968, . This wreckage was discovered in the Swiss Alps after the ice covering it began to melt.

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Old plane wreckage revealed by melting Swiss glaciers

The melting glaciers in Pakistan also contributed to the last summer’s devastating flooding in Pakistan . Pakistan is home to more glaciers that anywhere else outside of Antarctica and Arctic.

Pakistan is located in the northern Himalayas and has approximately 7,000 glaciers. Rising temperatures, which reached nearly 50C (122F in Nawabshah in 2022), are causing glacial lakes to form.

Scientists also warned about melting of Antarctica’s “doomsday” glacier, which could cause sea levels to rise by 60cm.

The UK would suffer severe consequences from the impact.

Professor Rounce cautioned that even a complete stop to global emissions wouldn’t be reflected in glacier loss rates over the next decade, which could take up to 100 years.

He described glaciers as “extremely slow moving rivers” whose impact is felt slowly.

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Major glaciers will disappear by 2050

The Daily Climate Show airs Monday through Friday at 3.30pm, while The Climate Show with Tom Heap airs Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm & 7.30pm.

All about Sky News on Sky News’ website and app on YouTube and Twitter.

This show examines how global warming has impacted our environment and offers solutions.


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