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Visualizing Earth’s Global Ice Loss Between 1994-2017

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Global Ice Loss

The Briefing

  • Due to global warming, 28 trillion tonnes of ice have melted in just over two decades
  • Over half (58%) of this global ice loss occurred in the Northern Hemisphere

Visualizing Earth’s Global Ice Loss Between 1994-2017

Nearly 70% of the Earth’s freshwater is locked up in glaciers and ice caps, ground ice, and permafrost. However, this ice is melting at an unprecedented rate.

Based on data from a new scientific survey, this visualization reveals that 28 trillion tonnes of Earth’s ice has been lost between 1994 and 2017.

How Much Ice Is Being Lost Exactly?

Figures at such scales can be difficult to wrap our heads around. For the record, one billion tonnes of water is equal to 400,000 Olympic swimming pools.

It’s then a bit easier to comprehend why, when multiplied tens of thousands of times, this much melted ice—specifically, grounded ice—has resulted in global sea levels rising by 34.6mm on average.

Cryosphere categoryIce typeChange (1994-2017)
Arctic sea iceFloating7.6 trillion tonnes
Antarctic ice shelvesGrounded6.5 trillion tonnes
Mountain glaciersGrounded6.1 trillion tonnes
Greenland ice sheetGrounded3.8 trillion tonnes
Antarctic ice sheetGrounded2.5 trillion tonnes
Southern Ocean sea iceFloating0.9 trillion tonnes

Over half (58%) of the ice loss occurred in the Northern Hemisphere, from Arctic sea ice and also grounded ice previously trapped in the Greenland ice sheet.

In fact, the rate of ice loss has risen from 0.8 trillion tonnes to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year, an increase of 57% since the 1990s.

The Impacts of the Ice Meltdown

Rapidly disappearing sea ice has severe impacts on the environment, both in the short and long term:

  • Wildlife habitat loss
  • Coastal erosion
  • Changing ocean currents
  • Extreme temperatures

While rising temperatures are behind most of this historical global ice loss, it’s worth noting that lower levels of ice lead to a positive feedback loop. Less ice means less of the sun’s heat is reflected away from the Earth, instead being absorbed back and further amplifying the global warming effect.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article on Mapping Territorial Claims in Antarctica

Where does this data come from?

Source: Slater, T. et al. “Review article: Earth’s ice imbalance”, The Cryosphere (2021)
Notes: Data from the scientific survey is based on satellite observations and numerical models. The metric measure of a “tonne” (1,000kg) has been used throughout for accuracy.

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Datastream

Olympics 2021: Comparing Every Sports Ball

Here are the different sizes and weights of each Olympic sports ball used in the Tokyo Olympics.

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Olympics 2021 Comparing Every Sports Ball Preview

The Briefing

  • Table tennis has the smallest sports ball used in the Tokyo Olympics at just 4cm in diameter and 2.7g in weight.
  • The biggest by size is the basketball at 24.35cm in diameter, but the shot is more than 10 times heavier at 7.26kg.

Olympics 2021: Comparing Every Sports Ball

It might be strange having the Olympics in 2021 (an odd year), but 2020 was anything but normal.

After facing a 12-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are set to kick off from July 23 to August 8.

In addition to hosting traditional sports like running and aquatics, some sports are being introduced for the first time (karate, skateboarding) or returning after an absence (baseball).

One thing that many Olympic sports share in common? There are 17 different sports that use balls or spheres of some sort, ranging in size and weight. Here are the different balls used in the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic Sports Balls by Size and Weight

The 2021 Olympics, which are still officially called the 2020 Olympics to keep the four-year cycle and branding consistent, are hosting 339 events across 33 different sports.

17 of those sports use balls or spheres. The official sizes and weights vary from a small diameter of 4cm for table tennis to the largest ball, a basketball with a diameter of 24.35cm.

SportDiameterWeight
Table Tennis4.00cm2.7g
Golf4.27cm45.93g
Tennis6.70cm57.7g
Field Hockey7.48cm163g
Baseball7.50cm149g
Softball9.55cm177g
Shot Put12.00cm7,260g
Handball (Women’s)17.51cm350g
Handball (Men’s)18.78cm450g
Rhythmic Gymnastics19.00cm400g
Volleyball21.01cm270g
Water Polo (Women’s)21.01cm425g
Beach Volleyball21.33cm270g
Soccer21.96cm432.5g
Water Polo (Men’s)22.28cm425g
Basketball (Women’s)23.24cm538g
Basketball (Men’s)24.35cm608g

Even within the same categories of sports, balls have different size and weight rules based on event or gender. Water polo, handball, and basketball all have slight variations of a few centimeters in diameter and up to 100g in weight for different gender events.

But sorting the balls by weight shows that the shot is far and away the heaviest. At 7.26kg, the shot is more than 10 times heavier than a basketball. That’s because while most sporting balls are made of light material filled with air, shots are typically constructed entirely of metal.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Wired, Official Sport Rulebooks.

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Datastream

Top 50 Companies Proportion of World GDP

The world’s top 50 companies are becoming more valuable, especially compared to global GDP.

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The Briefing

  • The combined market cap of the world’s top 50 companies was proportional to 27.6% of global GDP in 2020, up from just 4.7% of global GDP in 1990
  • Tech’s role continues to grow, now accounting for 21 of the top 50 companies

Top 50 Companies Proportion of World GDP

The world’s top 50 companies have become increasingly more valuable, and more powerful, over time.

As global GDP has grown over the last four decades, from $23.6 trillion in 1990 to $84.5 trillion in 2020, the proportional share of the world’s top companies by market capitalization has grown over five-fold.

YearGlobal GDPTop 50 Companies Market Cap as a % of GDP
1990$23.6T4.7%
2000$34.0T22.1%
2010$66.2T12.7%
2020$84.5T27.6%

Though the world’s top 50 companies change year-to-year, there’s also a lot of overlap.

Which Companies Dominated Each Decade?

2020’s largest company by market cap, Apple at $2.26 trillion, was the third largest company in 2010. Likewise, 2010’s largest company was Exxon Mobil, which was the second largest company in both 1990 and 2000 (but has since fallen off).

The top 50 companies in the world also highlight the increasing role of tech in the modern market. 1990’s largest company IBM was just one of three tech companies that made the ranking that year. Even in 2000, when the world’s largest company was GE, tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft only made up three of the top 10 companies by market cap.

Fast forward to 2020, and tech accounted for 42% of the top 50 companies in the world. It also plays a more prominent role on the high end of the spectrum, as six of 2020’s seven largest companies were tech-based, with only oil giant Saudi Aramco the odd one out.

Though digitization is a primary driver of current economic growth, will these trends remain steady in 10 or more years from now? Or will companies from other booming industries such as green energy take over the leaderboard?

>>Like this? You might find this article interesting, 23 Years of Shifting Tech Market Caps

Where does this data come from?

Source: Bloomberg, IMF.

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