NASA discovers massive hole melted away under Antarctic glacier

❝ A gigantic cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.

❝ Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole, however, surprised them. It’s big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years…

❝ About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost.

RTFA. Nice of the French and Germans to help us out with this research. Our government thinks we need more aircraft carriers and the beginnings of a whole new project to redesign rifles for the whole US Army.

3 thoughts on “NASA discovers massive hole melted away under Antarctic glacier

  1. Cassandra says:

    “Newly digitized vintage film has doubled how far back scientists can peer into the history of underground ice in Antarctica, and revealed that an ice shelf on Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is being thawed by a warming ocean more quickly than previously thought. This finding contributes to predictions for sea-level rise that would impact coastal communities around the world.” https://phys.org/news/2019-09-vintage-thwaites-glacier-ice-shelf.html
    The researchers made their findings by comparing ice-penetrating radar records of Thwaites Glacier with modern data. The research appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Sept. 2.
    “Antarctica: Thwaites Glacier Ice Shelf Has Thinned by up to 23 Percent Since 1970s” https://www.newsweek.com/antarctica-ice-shelf-thwaites-glacier-23-percent-1457241
    …studying Thwaites Glacier—which is about the same size as Florida—is important because it contains enough ice on its own to raise global sea levels by about two feet if it all melts, according to Public Radio International. https://interactive.pri.org/2019/05/antarctica/doomed-glacier-race.html
    One team of researchers argued in a 2014 paper [published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science journal]. that Thwaites—one of the world’s most unstable glaciers—will likely suffer an irreversible collapse in the next 200 to 1,000 years. This could have wider knock-on effects because the glacier lies in the middle of the massive West Antarctica Ice Sheet, which is about the size of Mexico. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/344/6185/735.abstract
    Scientists, think that the collapse of Thwaites could destabilize neighboring glaciers, potentially leading to sea level rise of up to 11 feet—enough to flood coastal cities around the world. At present, thawing from Thwaites—which has lost around 600 gigatons of ice in the past 40 years—contributes around 4 percent of global sea level rise, according to NASA. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7322

  2. Update says:

    “Thwaites glacier: Significant geothermal heat beneath the ice stream.
    Researchers map the geothermal heat flow in West Antarctica; a new potential weak spot in the ice sheet’s stability is identified” (Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research) https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/925529
    “Due to a complex tectonic and magmatic history of West Antarctica, the region is suspected to exhibit strong heterogeneous geothermal heat flux variations.” (Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 2017) https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016GC006755

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