The “doomsday glacier” that could trigger 6-foot sea level rise “hanging by the nails”

The “doomsday glacier” that could trigger 6-foot sea level rise “hanging by the nails”

The “doomsday glacier” that could trigger 6-foot sea level rise “hanging by the nails”

The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA image.  The vast glaciers of West Antarctica appear to be stuck in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that could cause sea levels to rise for centuries, scientists said on May 12, 2014. Six glaciers, including the Thwaites Glacier, consumed by the low from sea warming the waters around the frozen continent, flowed fast into the Amundsen Sea, according to the report based in part on satellite radar measurements from 1992 to 2011. REUTERS / NASA / Handout via Reuters (ANTARCTICA - Tags: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.  NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY THIRD PARTIES.  IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CUSTOMERS

The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica (handout Reuters / NASA)

Scientists have warned that Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica – known as the “Doomsday Glacier” – is “hanging by the nails.”

if it triggers an uncontrolled collapse, scientists have previously warned.

The study, based on seafloor scans that showed how quickly the glacier had retreated in the past, revealed that catastrophic changes could.

Robert Larter of the British Antarctic Survey said: “Thwaites is really holding on to the nails today.

“We should expect to see large changes on short time scales in the future, even year to year, once the glacier retreats beyond a shallow ridge in its bed.”

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it is 74,000 square miles, the size of Britain, and is thought to be particularly susceptible to climate change.

Over the past 30 years, glaciers and its neighbors have almost doubled.

Even now, the ice draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea accounts for about four percent of global sea level rise, as it dumps 50 billion tons of ice into the ocean every year.

If it collapses, it could raise sea level by about 65 cm as it melts, but it could trigger an uncontrolled collapse in the western half of Antarctica that could lead to sea level rises of up to 6 feet.

The new study in Nature Geoscience by marine geophysicist Alastair Graham at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science (USF CMS) adds cause for concern.

For the first time, scientists have mapped a critical area of ​​the seafloor in front of the glacier at high resolution, giving them a window into the speed at which the Thwaites have retreated and moved in the past.

The team documented more than 160 parallel ridges that were created, like a footprint, as the leading edge of the glacier retreated and swayed up and down with the daily tides.

“It’s like you’re looking at a tidal gauge at the bottom of the sea,” Graham said. “It really amazes me how good the data is.”

To understand Thwaites’ past retreat, the team analyzed the rib-like formations submerged just under half a mile below the polar ocean and took into account the tidal cycle for the region, as predicted by computer models, to show that a rib must have been formed every single day.

At some point in the past 200 years, for a duration of less than six months, the front of the glacier lost contact with a seafloor ridge and retreated at a rate of over 1.3 miles per year) – double the speed documented using satellites between 2011 and 2019.

Earlier this year, scientists speaking to the BBC warned that dramatic changes could occur within ten or even five years.

Scientists warn that a floating section of the Thwaites Glacier could “shatter like a car windshield.”

Professor Ted Scambos, US Principal Coordinator for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), said, “There will be a dramatic change in the glacier front, probably in less than a decade. Both published and unpublished studies. published point in that direction.

“This will accelerate (Thwaites’) pace and actually widen the dangerous part of the glacier.

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In December, , “[Thwaites] it is a keystone for the other glaciers surrounding it in West Antarctica. . . If you remove it, more ice will potentially start flowing into the ocean as well. “

Cutler says Thwaites Glacier is losing ice faster and faster and that the process appears to be accelerating.

Cutler said: “The big question is how fast it gets unstable. It seems to be poised on the edge.”

it has warmed three times faster than other areas over the past three decades, the researchers say.

Watch: Doomsday Glacier could raise sea level by several feet

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