The world’s glaciers have melted to the lowest levels since record-keeping began more than 120 years ago, according to a study conducted by the World Glacier Monitoring Service that was released on Monday. The research, published in the Journal of Glaciology, provides new evidence that climate change has spurred the rapid decline of thousands of the world’s ice shelves over the past century. The first decade of the 21st century saw the fastest loss of ice since scientists began tracking it in 1894 — and perhaps in recorded history, WGMS reported.
“Globally, we lose about three times the ice volume stored in the entirety of the European Alps every year,” Michael Zemp, director of the WGMS and lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post. On average, the world’s glaciers will lose 30 inches of ice thickness this year, Zemp said. That’s twice the rate lost in the 1990s, and three times the rate lost in the 1980s.
The news comes just a few months before many of the world’s leaders gather in Paris for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. The planet’s leading scientists have emphasized the importance of reaching a deal, saying there is “no plan B” if the talks fail.