(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide)

Objection: Sure, some glaciers are melting. But if you look at the studies, most of those for which we have data are growing.

Answer: This is simply not true, rumors on “the internets” aside. The National Snow and Ice Data Centre and their State of the Cryosphere division, on their Glacial Balance page, report an overall accelerating rate of glacial mass loss. The World Glacier Monitoring Service has similar findings, the most recent data coming from 2004.

While there surely are some growing glaciers, studies like these are designed to determine a global trend by ensuring glaciers from all regions of the globe are assessed. There are 67,000 glaciers in the World Glacier Inventory. Not all, or even most, have quality data for many decades, but there are enough with adequate data, located in enough regions of the globe, to know the average trend.

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Global Glacier Mass Balance
(source: NSIDC)

Don’t forget: there is similar evidence from other parts of the cryosphere. It’s also worth noting that given the right circumstances, warming can actually cause glacier growth, with accumulation of increased winter snowfall outweighing increased summer melting.

Check this page for some good before-and-after images of glaciers over the last century, as well as other images of visible effects of global warming. There are also some compelling animations of changes in Glacier Bay National Park here.

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