Scientists have been warning for a long time that the ice cover on Earth is seriously decreasing due to climate change. NASA used the modern ICESat-2 satellite to laser scan the planet to show how the height of the ice cover in Greenland and Antarctica has changed over the past 16 years.
During measurements, the ICESat-2 used a laser altimeter. It sends 10,000 pulses per second to the Earth’s surface and measures the time it takes for the signal to come back.
The results show that, despite the growth of glaciers in the eastern part of Antarctica, the ice in its west is rapidly melting. Losses led to a rise in sea level of 14 millimeters from 2003 to 2019 – a little less than a third of the total level of water rise observed in the world’s oceans.
Altogether, 200 gigatons of ice annually disappeared in Greenland, and 118 gigatons in Antarctica. One gigaton is equal to 109 tons, so much ice would be enough to fill 400,000 Olympic pools.