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”.
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.
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.
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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