Everywhere half of the world’s glaciers A key source of freshwater for 2 billion people could disappear by 2100, even under the most optimistic plans to curb global carbon emissions, according to a shocking report published on Thursday.

In a new study published in the journal Science, researchers say that every degree of warming of our planet matters when it comes to protecting glacial ice. If the planet warms 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the most ambitious target scientists have set for addressing climate change, 49% of glaciers are expected to disappear by the end of the century compared to 2015 levels. If the planet warms by 2.7°C, an increase expected based on climate pledges at the UN’s 2021 climate summit, the number of glaciers lost rises to 68%.

Things get worse from there.

“If there’s one thing our study takes away, it’s that every increase in temperature counts,” says David Rouse, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University and lead author of the report. wrote, “We, as a society, have the potential to make a difference to save a great deal of glaciers and reduce the impacts associated with glacier loss.”

The study used new techniques to study satellite data to help researchers predict how each glacier on the planet would respond to warming scenarios. Those at lower latitudes would be more sensitive to warming, and some regions, including western Canada, the US and New Zealand, could lose 60% to 100% of their glacial mass under high warming scenarios.

The loss of glaciers, which can spread for miles like frozen rivers, will directly contribute to sea level rise. The report estimates sea level rise of about 3.5 inches if warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, 4.5 inches at 2.7 degrees of warming and 5 inches at 3 degrees below pre-industrial levels.

The study includes about 215,000 glaciers, but excludes the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Scientists have long said that climate change will cause massive losses in ice levels in those regions, leading to environmental disruption and more sea level rise,

The planet’s glaciers have been shrinking for decades, threatening iconic tourist and cultural sites, including Glacier National Park in the United States and last remaining glacier in africa, But rising temperatures will have a direct impact on hundreds of millions of people who depend on the annual season of freeze and thaw of glaciers for their fresh water, such as in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and parts of Europe.

the authors warned on Thursday that the planet is not on track To keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, insisting the findings should prompt countries to adopt far more ambitious climate targets to help preserve glacial ice.

The paper reads, “Accelerating glacier mass loss as global temperatures rise beyond 1.5C stresses the urgency of setting more ambitious climate pledges to preserve glaciers in these mountain regions.”

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