# Visualizing the Quantities of Climate Change

Ice Sheet Loss in Greenland and Antarctica

## How big is just one gigatonne?

Satellite data show that Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at a rate of and , respectively. So how big is just one gigatonne?

+ SHOW ME THE MATH

National Mall dimensions (from OpenStreetMap):
2 km long, 0.2 km wide

ice height = 1.091 km³ / (2 * 0.2) = 2.7275 km = 2,727.5 meters

A fully loaded Nimitz-class aircraft carrier weights 100,000 tonnes, according to the Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet.

Central Park dimensions (from OpenStreetMap):
4 km meters long, 0.8km wide

1 gigatonne of ice = 1.091 km³

4 km * 0.8 km * ice height km = 1.091 km³

ice height = 1.091 km³ / (4 km * 0.8 km)
ice height = 0.3409 km = 340.9 meters

A fully loaded Nimitz-class aircraft carrier weights 100,000 tonnes, according to the Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet.

## How much is 5,000 gigatonnes of ice?

This is the amount of ice lost from the polar ice caps that NASA’s original GRACE mission observed from 2002 to 2017.

During the 15-year lifetime of the original GRACE mission (2002-2017), 5,641 gigatonnes of ice of were lost in Greenland and Antarctica. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s freshwater ice is located in these ice sheets.

This is enough to cover Texas in a sheet of ice 26 feet high.

+ SHOW ME THE MATH

Antarctica lost 1,870 gigatonnes since 2002

Greenland lost 3,771 gigatonnes since 2002

5,641 gigatonnes total combined

Area of Texas: 696,241 km² (Texas Almanac)

Ice density = 1.091 km³ / gigatonne

5,000 gigatonnes * 1.091 km³ / gigatonne = ice height * 696,241

ice height = (5,000 gigatonnes * 1.091 km³ / gigatonne) / 696,241 km² = 0.00783493072 km = 7.83493072 m = 25.70515328084 feet

## How much is 49,000 gigatonnes of ice?

This is our best estimate of how much Greenland and Antarctic ice has melted into the ocean since the start of the 20th century.