The Stream, August 26: Major Ice Loss Recorded On Greenland Ice Sheet

The Global Rundown

The Greenland Ice Sheet lost nearly 300 gigatons of ice each year between 2011 and 2014, according to new research. Over the past three decades, climate change and human activities have altered the location and quantity of the world’s surface water. Millions of people in Zimbabwe face hunger due to an El Nino drought, while thousands of people remain stranded by monsoon floods in eastern India. Protests against an oil pipeline under construction in North Dakota have gained momentum. Mayors from cities around the Great Lakes are asking the region’s governors to rethink a vote to approve a water diversion from Lake Michigan.

“It’s not a matter of whether there will be a spill, it’s when it will happen. Everyone knows what is at stake and we won’t be sacrificed. We are protecting the lifeblood of our people, these rivers are the arteries of Mother Earth.” –Angela Bevans, an assistant attorney of Sioux background, on the Dakota Access oil pipeline that is being constructed in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been protesting the pipeline over concerns about water pollution and the disturbance of culturally significant sites. Protests have shut down a pipeline work site, and a federal judge is reviewing whether or not the pipeline’s approval violated tribal rights. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

110,000 Olympic swimming pools Equivalent to the amount of water melting each year from the Greenland Ice Sheet, which lost 270 gigatons of ice annually between 2011 and 2014. Guardian

4.5 million people Estimated number in Zimbabwe who face food insecurity following an El Nino-linked drought, according to the United Nations. Communities are also facing water shortages due to broken or dry wells. Reuters

100,000 people Number stranded and awaiting evacuation from widespread floods in eastern India. More than 300 people have died. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Melting glaciers, the construction of dams, and expanding irrigation networks have all contributed to a significant shift in the location and amount of surface water around the world over the past three decades, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The largest increases in surface water occurred in the Tibetan Plateau, while the largest declines occurred in the Aral Sea basin. Overall, more area was converted to land than to surface water, and coastlines actually gained area due to man-made construction. BBC News

On The Radar

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an organization representing mayors in both Canada and the United States, is challenging a decision by the Great Lakes governors to approve a water diversion from Lake Michigan. The governors voted in June to allow the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin to use Lake Michigan water, marking the first out-of-basin transfer allowed under a regional agreement that aims to prevent such projects. MLive