NASA has released a sobering video showing the state of our glaciers over the last 48 years.
The images, taken by satellites orbiting the planet, show glaciers and ice sheets in Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica retreating over the decades and not growing back as they should.
According to Science Alert, the Landsat images that started in 1972 back-up scientists evidence for the increased speed of climate change. While some glaciers do grow in the video, most shrink and those that are stable have big calving events, like the Hubbard glacier in Alaska.
Since the images are taken of a variety of glaciers at different points on the globe, the trends show that this is a bigger problem than individual glaciers melting. In Greenland the images show glaciers retreating by 5 kilometres and speeding up after 2000.
“One thing we’ve noticed is that retreat has been a pattern that we’ve seen across the ice sheets in Greenland,” glaciologist Michalea King of The Ohio State University, told Science Daily. “It’s not just limited to one region.”
The retreat was accompanied by the formation of glacial lakes, these lakes destabilise the glaciers and make it more likely for them to clave.
“We looked at how many lakes there are per year across the ice sheet and found an increasing trend over the last 20 years: a 27 percent increase in lakes,” said glaciologist James Lea of the University of Liverpool in the UK. “We’re also getting more and more lakes at higher elevations – areas that we weren’t expecting to see lakes in until 2050 or 2060.”