Ice giant in Antarctica. If this glacier breaks, the sea level will rise abruptly.

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. (Archives)

Image: NASA via Keystone

If the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica melts, entire coastal areas are at risk of flooding. Now researchers are warning: the giant grabs only its “nails”.

according to study Threatens Thwaites Glacier Melting is faster than previously thought – and this could lead to a significant rise in sea levels.

The Thwaites Glacier is located in the western part of Antarctica, has an area of ​​192,000 square kilometers, and is approximately the size of the US state of Florida. Because of its global significance, it is also called the “ice doomsday”.

An international team of researchers has now mapped the ice giant’s retreat over the centuries with the aim of learning from it in the future. The results are alarming. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The team used a self-driving underwater vehicle equipped with sensors.

HANDOUT - 09-05-2022, ---, Antarctica: Rán, an autonomous underwater vehicle from Kongsberg HUGIN, is in sea ice off Thwaites Glacier after a 20-hour seafloor mapping mission.  According to a study, giant glaciers in Antarctica are at risk of melting faster than previously thought - potentially leading to a dramatic rise in sea levels.  (to dpa
An underwater autonomous vehicle is in sea ice off the Thwaites Glacier after a 20-hour seafloor mapping mission.

Photo: Anna Whelen/University of Gothenburg/D

Possible ‘terrifying’ effects

In the past, the researchers found, the front of the glacier broke off from the sea floor in less than six months and then retreated at a rate of 2.1 kilometers per year – about twice as fast as previous years.

“Our results indicate that very rapidly declining legumes have occurred in Thwaites Glacier over the past two centuries and possibly into the mid-20th century,” said University of South Florida marine geophysicist Alastair Graham, one of the study’s lead authors.

The sea level rises between 90 cm and 3 metres

Due to the warm ocean currents, the giant, which is under constant observation by scientists, is melting along its underwater edge. Someone said the potential repercussions of Thwaites’ withdrawal are horrific message to study.

HANDOUT - 02/01/2019, ---: R/V research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, photographed by drone on the Thwaites Glacier's glacier front in February 2019. According to a study, the giant Antarctic glacier is in danger of melting dramatically Faster than previously thought - which could lead to a significant rise in sea levels.  (to dpa
Research vessel R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer photographed from a drone on the Thwaites Glacier’s icy front in February 2019.

Photo: Alexandra Mazur / University of Gothenburg / dpa

The complete loss of the glacier and the ice around it could lead to a sea level rise of 90 cm to 3 metres. As a result, coastal cities around the world could be partially submerged.

“Thwaites is now biting his nails,” warned co-author Robert Larter of the British Antarctic Survey. Large changes on small time scales can be expected in the future once the glacier retreats beyond a certain point.

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