How are Earth’s mountain glaciers faring in a warming world?

Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland
Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland.
NASA/John Sonntag

On average, most of Earth’s mountain glaciers are continuing to melt. Scientists know this by calculating the glaciers’ “average mass balance”: taking accumulated snowfall on those glaciers and subtracting ice losses due to melting, meltwater runoff (drainage away from glaciers), and evaporation (when a liquid turns into a gas). Their calculations show decades of more ice losses than gains.

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