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Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear

Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear

by Ben Jervey
March 12, 2011

A couple of engineers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences created this visualization of shrinking glaciers, polar ice caps, and ice shelves, starting back 21,000 years ago (at the peak of the last Ice Age), and ending 1,000 years from now.

You'll see the slow retreat of the glaciers over thousands of years until the present day, when (at about 1:35 in the video), the Arctic ice cap disappears in a flash. Then there's a longer term retreat of the ice shelves on Greenland and Antarctica for the next thousand years.

Here's how Adrian Meyer and Karl Rege describe it:

It shows the earth starting at the last glacial maximum 21,000 years ago and ends 1,000 years in the future. End summer sea ice is shown. The yellow line shows the actual shoreline. The future projection is based on the assumption of complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions in 2100 (IPCC A2). Because world population is rather uncertain we froze to its current value.

A few things that make this video even scarier:

First, they assume a world with zero carbon emissions by 2100, which, though entirely necessary, is the farthest possible cry from the path we're on.

More importantly, recent studies released by NASA this week show that the vast ice shelves of Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than any previous estimations. So the end of the video could be fast forwarded a bit.

According to Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

That ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising—they hold a lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers. What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening. If present trends continue, sea level is likely to be significantly higher than levels projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

Perhaps a new version of this video is necessary, with updated melt projections and perhaps the reshaping of coastlines from sea level rise.

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