The Southern Alps in New Zealand are the latest icy region to be devastated by global warming.


A study finds the mountains have lost up to 62 per cent of their glaciers since the end of the Little Ice Age, around 400 years ago.


This, according to the study, equates to a maximum ice loss of 73 square km (30 square miles), an area half the size of Liechtenstein.


By contrast, Patagonia, which is home to the largest body of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica, has seen just 11 per cent of its Little Ice Age volume vanish.


New Zealand's Southern Alps are best known for being the set of many scenes from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies.


The Southern Alps is the highest mountain range in Australasia, with Mount Cook's summit standing at 12,218ft above sea level.


The study analysed volume changes in the Southern Alps for three time periods: 1600 to 1978, 1978 to 2009 and 2009 to 2019. 


Data was gathered using computer simulations, physical markings and historical records. Comparison between the decades reveals ice loss has increased two-fold since the Little Ice Age, with a rapid increase in the last 40 years. 


Up to 17 per cent of the ice that was on the mountains at the time of the Little Ice Age was lost between 1978 and 2019 alone.


In 2019, only 12 per cent of ice mass remained in what was formerly the low altitude part of the Little Ice Age glacier region.