Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica developed a cavity almost as large as Manhattan

017 thwaites glacer Thwaites Glacier
Sandy Nunez | 05 February, 2019, 02:43

The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is one of the most hard places to reach on Earth. Thwaites holds back a large portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and a handful of nearby glaciers; if Thwaites disappears, we could see an additional 8 feet of sea level rise from these sources, on top of the 2 feet from Thwaites itself. Hopefully, the upcoming worldwide collaboration will help researchers piece together the different systems at work under and around the glacier, the researchers said.

And the subsurface ice erosion has disturbing implications. In turn, this makes the glacier even more susceptible to melting.

This means the mass of ice - about the size of Florida - can break up and slip into the sea, much faster than projected.

The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA image. An advanced satellite that is able to use a radar array that can penetrate the thick layers of ice was the primary tool that led to the discovery. At the same time the ice melts in the area extremely quickly. Click on "Water Level", to change the sea level.

"As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster".

"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it", said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Scientists spotted the concealed void thanks to a new generation of satellites, Rignot noted.

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Milillo hopes the new results will be useful for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration researchers as they prepare for their fieldwork. The U.S. National Science Foundation and the British National Environmental Research Council are mounting a five-year field task to answer the most basic inquiries concerning its procedures and highlights. It will begin its field observations later this year.

Would melt the entire glacier, could increase the world's oceans of about 65 centimeters, said in the Nasa statement.

This would inundate coastal cities like NY, which could probably cope with the changes if they were gradual but would be seriously and potentially mortally damaged if sea levels rose too quickly for engineers to mount a response. For instance, the 100-mile-long (160 kilometers) glacier front has different rates of retreat in its grounding line (where the sea ice meets the ocean's bedrock) depending on where you look.

The Thwaites glacier has experienced significant flow acceleration since the 1970s. In this region, as the tide rises and falls, the grounding line retreats and advances across a zone of about 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers).

Annual ice discharge from this region as a whole has increased 77 per cent since 1973. The West Antarctic ice sheet in general is considered one of the most unstable and vulnerable, the report says.

An enormous cavity has been discovered at the base of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica.