Glacier facts

Fast facts - Glacier retreat in all continents

  • Nearly all glaciers surveyed in Alaska are melting. Thinning rates in the last 5 to 7 years are more than twice those seen in previous years. Half of the water flowing into the oceans, globally, due to melting glaciers, is a result of melting in Alaska.

  • The northern Andes contain the largest concentration of glaciers in the tropics, but these glaciers are receding rapidly and losses accelerated during the 1990s.

  • Glacier melting has accelerated in the European Alps since 1980, and 10 to 20% of glacier ice in the Alps was lost in less than two decades. Half the volume of Europe's Alpine glaciers has disappeared since 1850. By the end of this century, half of those left will have gone as well.

  • Tropical glaciers in Africa have decreased in area by 60% to 70% on average since the early 1900s.

  • The vast majority of all Himalayan glaciers have been retreating and thinning over the past 30 years, with accelerated losses over the last decade.

  • The tropical glaciers in the Pacific have retreated, although in New Zealand some glaciers grew due to increased precipitation.

  • Arctic glaciers have been receding, with the exception of Scandinavia and Iceland where increase in precipitation resulted in glacier growth. Greenland alone contains 12% of the world's ice; entire portions of the Greenland ice sheet appear to be sliding towards the sea.

  • In Antarctica the centre of the continent is currently cooling so it won't be melting soon. However, coastal glaciers and ice sheets in the Antarctic are melting. The melting of ice sheets and ice shelves that sit on top of land, will result in higher sea levels.
 / ©: © WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER
Perito Moreno Glacier Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina. UNESCO World Heritage Site
© © WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER

Melting snows of Kilimanjaro

The snow cap of Kilimanjaro formed some 11,000 years ago but some scientists now believe that it will melt away over the next two decades. Visit NASA's website to view pictures and an animation documenting the shrinking of this glacier.
 View of the large and medium-sized islands, and numerous smaller islets, reefs and atolls that ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Soh Koon CHNG
Low-lying islands such as the Soloman Islands above are severely threatened by sea level rise, which is driven by climate change.
© WWF-Canon / Soh Koon CHNG

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