What is a gigatonne of ice?

The picture here is a snapshot from an animation by NASA in the article Visualizing the Quantities of Climate Change – Ice Sheet Loss in Greenland and Antarctica by Matt Conlen (3/9/2020) that shows a gigatonne of ice. A gigatonne isn’t much since

Satellite data show that Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at a rate of 283 gigatonnes per year and 145 gigatonnes per year, respectively.

There are three animations one for 1 gigatonne, 5,000 gigatonnes (about the amount lost from the polar ice caps from 2002-2017), and 49,000 gigatones (estimate of the amount lost in the 20th century). Each animation also has an associated math box for the related calculation.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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