Visualizing Earth’s Global Ice Loss Between 1994-2017

This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

Global Ice Loss

The Briefing

  • Due to global warming, 28 trillion tonnes of ice have melted in just over two decades
  • Over half (58%) of this global ice loss occurred in the Northern Hemisphere

Visualizing Earth’s Global Ice Loss Between 1994-2017

Nearly 70% of the Earth’s freshwater is locked up in glaciers and ice caps, ground ice, and permafrost. However, this ice is melting at an unprecedented rate.

Based on data from a new scientific survey, this visualization reveals that 28 trillion tonnes of Earth’s ice has been lost between 1994 and 2017.

How Much Ice Is Being Lost Exactly?

Figures at such scales can be difficult to wrap our heads around. For the record, one billion tonnes of water is equal to 400,000 Olympic swimming pools.

It’s then a bit easier to comprehend why, when multiplied tens of thousands of times, this much melted ice—specifically, grounded ice—has resulted in global sea levels rising by 34.6mm on average.

Cryosphere categoryIce typeChange (1994-2017)
Arctic sea iceFloating7.6 trillion tonnes
Antarctic ice shelvesGrounded6.5 trillion tonnes
Mountain glaciersGrounded6.1 trillion tonnes
Greenland ice sheetGrounded3.8 trillion tonnes
Antarctic ice sheetGrounded2.5 trillion tonnes
Southern Ocean sea iceFloating0.9 trillion tonnes

Over half (58%) of the ice loss occurred in the Northern Hemisphere, from Arctic sea ice and also grounded ice previously trapped in the Greenland ice sheet.

In fact, the rate of ice loss has risen from 0.8 trillion tonnes to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year, an (Read more...)