Regional and global volumes of glaciers derived from statistical upscaling of glacier inventory data
Very few global-scale ice volume estimates are available for mountain glaciers and ice caps, although such estimates are crucial for any attempts to project their contribution to sea level rise in the future. We present a statistical method for deriving regional and global ice volumes from regional glacier area distributions and volume area scaling using glacier area data from ̃123,000 glaciers from a recently extended World Glacier Inventory. We compute glacier volumes and their sea level equivalent (SLE) for 19 glacierized regions containing all mountain glaciers and ice caps on Earth. On the basis of total glacierized area of 741 × 103 ± 68 × 103 km2, we estimate a total ice volume of 241 × 103 ± 29 × 103 km3, corresponding to 0.60 ± 0.07 m SLE, of which 32% is due to glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica apart from the ice sheets. However, our estimate is sensitive to assumptions on volume area scaling coefficients and glacier area distributions in the regions that are poorly inventoried, i.e., Antarctica, North America, Greenland, and Patagonia. This emphasizes the need for more volume observations, especially of large glaciers and a more complete World Glacier Inventory in order to reduce uncertainties and to arrive at firmer volume estimates for all mountain glaciers and ice caps.