The fate of "Doom Glacier" is in the balance

The Thwaites Glacier, also known as the Dom Glacier, may melt in the near future and cause sea and ocean levels to rise dramatically. The team of researchers found that at some point in the past 200 years, the rate of recession, and therefore decay, was more than two kilometers per year.

Thwaites Glacier is located in West Antarctica, and its size is larger than the size of Florida. His condition has been a concern to researchers for many decades. As early as 1973, they wondered about the danger of the glacier’s disappearance. Nearly a decade later, they discovered that because the glacier was deposited on the sea floor instead of on land, warm ocean currents could melt it from below as well, destabilizing it. In contrast, in the twenty-first century, scientists began to clearly notice how quickly Thwaites was receding. In 2001, satellite data showed that its edge was moving about one kilometer per year. In 2021, analyzes were made that showed that after breaking the Thwaites rule, all of its contents could be discharged into the ocean within five years.

In the study, published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, scientists describe the retreat of glaciers in the past and provide more disturbing information about Thwaites.

Express the slack rate

The study used a special robotic vehicle called Rán, which mapped the seafloor area in front of the glacier. This documented more than 160 ridge-like ridges that formed as the ice front retreated and repositioned.

To understand the retreat of glaciers in the past, the team analyzed footprints 700 meters below the surface of the ocean and looked at the tidal cycle in the area. As noted, at some point in the past 200 years, in less than six months, the glacier front lost contact with the edge of the sea floor and retreated at a rate of more than 2.1 kilometers per year. Lead author Alistair Graham of the University of South Florida noted: “Our results suggest that drivers of very rapid decline emerged in the last two centuries, possibly in the mid-20th century.”

Thwaites GlacierNASA

Effects of the loss of Thwaites Glacier

If the Thwaites glacier and the ice basins surrounding it melt, global sea level could rise by 90-300 cm.

“The fate of Thwaites is in the balance,” said Robert Larter of the British Antarctic Survey, a marine geophysicist and one of the study’s authors. – In the future, we should expect very big changes in Thwaites in a very short time. He added that these changes can occur from year to year as the glacier retreats beyond the shallow edge of its pillars.

Thwaites GlacierNASA / James Youngle


Main image source: NASA

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