Glaciers and ice caps make up for a mere three percent of ice on our planet, yet they account for about half of rising sea levels.

A place like Alaska, with a multitude of glaciers and ice spread over 34,000 square miles, does have a global impact, experts say.

“We have used satellites to measure the mass changes of all of Alaska’s glaciers, but there are also many glaciers that need to be measured in the field,” said Anthony Arendt, assistant research professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

Glacial patterns are difficult to predict — even for current computer models. Glaciers found in Alaska often behave independently of one another, says Arendt, who led the study, according to a Fairbanks Institute statement.

“Alaska glaciers have been losing mass more rapidly since the mid-1990s than they were several decades earlier,” added Arendt.

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