Thwaites Glacier – otherwise known as ‘Doomsday Glacier’, due to the fact that it could raise sea levels by several feet – would be suspended ‘by its fingernails’.
Scientists have found that the glacier’s underwater base is eroding due to the Earth’s temperature increase, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.
“Thwaites is really holding on today by his fingernails,” said Robert Larter, a marine geophysicist who co-authored the study.
“And we should expect to see big changes on small time scales in the future – even from year to year – once the glacier retreats beyond a shallow ridge in its bed.”
West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is about the size of Florida and could potentially raise sea levels by nearly 16 feet if it falls into the ocean, which scientists have predicted in the next three years.
Researchers have been monitoring the glacier’s recession since “as recently as the mid-20th century”, according to lead author Alastair Graham, and have recorded a disintegration rate nearly doubling over the past decade.
Earlier this year, an international group of scientists tried to study the glacier in a bid to help stop erosion, but the group was thwarted by a chunk of ice from the doomed glacier.
Graham said it was “truly a once-in-a-lifetime mission” and he hopes the team can return to the glacier soon – since scientists thought erosion was working at a slower rate before the publication of the report. study.
“Just a little kick to the Thwaites could lead to a big response,” Graham said.
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