Something of a melting ice feel to start this morning. Mountain glaciers are shrinking three times faster than they were in the 1980s, according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), which continuously studies a sample of 30 glaciers around the world. The acceleration is due to climate change.

The report, forms the first part of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and will be the latest definitive assessment of climate science. “[The report] embodies substantial new research, it addresses gaps that existed in our knowledge earlier, it has reduced existing uncertainties,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters at a news briefing in Paris.”I hope policies and actions will be formed to address the problem.”

The latest survey shows accelerating decline. During 2005, this sample of 30 glaciers became, on average, 60-70cm thinner. This figure is 1.6 times more than the average annual loss during the 1990s, and three times faster than in the 1980s.

With mountain glaciers typically only tens of metres thick, this meant, said WGMS director Wilfried Haeberli, that many would disappear on a timescale of decades if the trend continued. “With the scenarios predicted, we will enter conditions which we have not seen in the past 10,000 years, and perhaps conditions which mankind has never experienced.”

Last year, WGMS scientists forecast that the Alps would lose up to three-quarters of their glaciers during the coming century.

More information World Glacier Monitoring Service:

More figures here: