World's Glaciers Melt Away In Dramatic Before-And-After Photos

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Photographs released by the Geological Society of America show just how quickly some of the world's glaciers have receded.

The images were compiled as part of a collaboration with Extreme Ice Survey, and released alongside a study that shows the impact of glacial melt on Thursday.

One set of photos shows how the ice on Alaska's Columbia Glacier retreated more than six kilometres between 2009 and 2015.

alaska glacier retreat
The Columbia Glacier in 2009 (L) and 2015 (R). (Photo: James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey)

Researchers chose to release the dramatic photos along with statistics to help educators and the public visualize exactly how serious the problem of rising sea levels is.

"The rate at which glaciers are retreating provides one of the clearest indications that time is of the essence if human impacts are to be limited," the study reads.

"As glaciers are lost, rivers receiving melt water will increasingly be susceptible to low flows during dry seasons and drought, stressing societies that rely upon those resources."

The study notes that observations of 5,200 glaciers around the world shows not only that more glaciers are retreating than advancing, but that the amount of ice lost is "without precedent." The society attributes the cause to global warming, caused by "rising concentrations of greenhouse gases released by the combustion of fossil fuels."

Mendenhall Glacier, 2007-2009. #Alaska #climatechange #timelapse

A post shared by James Balog (@james_balog) on

The photographs were released the same week as a study on Greenland's glaciers, that found the region passed a "tipping point" 20 years ago and that much of its coastal ice will disappear completely by 2100.

"These peripheral glaciers and ice caps can be thought of as colonies of ice that are in rapid decline, many of which will likely disappear in the near future,” Ohio State University Professor Ian Howat said in a release.

"In that sense, you could say that they’re ‘doomed.’"

View more before and after photos in the video above.

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