News & AnalysisGLACIOLOGY

Melting Glaciers, Not Just Ice Sheets, Stoking Sea-Level Rise

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Science  17 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6134, pp. 798
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6134.798

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Glaciologists trekking onto remote, inhospitable streams of flowing ice have brought back some especially bad news. But then 21st century monitoring from space began to show a much smaller role for glacial ice loss in sea-level rise. Which to believe? A new study brings together both boots-on-the-ice and high-tech glaciologists, saying that although the field measurements were painting an accurate picture of the few glaciers being monitored, they were not representative of the world's glaciers. All 19 glacierized regions of the world are losing ice, the study finds, but the iconic glaciers long-studied by field glaciologists are disappearing faster than most. Still, the world's glaciers are losing ice just as fast as the great ice sheets.