Speed Reads

do something, fast

New study finds two-thirds of the world's glaciers could be lost by 2100

Up to two-thirds of the world's glaciers could disappear by the end of the century, as they are melting faster than scientists had thought, a new report published Thursday in the journal Science said.

The study also found that if global leaders take quick action and future warming is slowed down to only a few more tenths of a degree, slightly less than half of the glaciers will go extinct, The Associated Press reports.

For the study, scientists used computer simulations to predict what would happen to the world's 215,000 land-based glaciers under different temperature increases, calculating how many of the glaciers would melt and how that would increase sea levels. Under current conditions, the world is set to reach a 4.9 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise since pre-industrial times, meaning that by 2100, 32 percent of the world's glacier mass will disappear and 68 percent of glaciers will be lost. Under the best case scenario, the melting ice will add 3.5 inches to the world's sea level, and under the worst, it would add 6.5 inches.

"No matter what, we're going to lose a lot of the glaciers," study lead author David Rounce, a glaciologist and engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told AP. "But we have the ability to make a difference by limiting how many glaciers we lose."

Glaciers provide drinking and agricultural water and hydropower, and support "billions of people," National Snow and Ice Center Deputy Lead Scientist Twila Moon told AP. They are also part of their individual landscapes in places like Austria and Alaska and Iceland, and are what make them "so special," National Snow and Data Ice Center Director Mark Serreze said. "As they lose their ice in a sense they also lose their soul."