A mass of warm water threatens to topple the pillars that keep the “Doomsday Glacier” afloat.
The first measurements ever performed underneath the icy tongue of the Thwaites Glacier have uncovered a previously unknown flow of warm water from the east.
The inflow of heat mixes with other waters beneath the glacier, and it started eating away at crucial “pinning points,” according to researchers, whittling them down from all sides.
If the activity keeps on or, even worse, intensifies, the team is worried that it may detach massive amounts of land-borne ice flowing into Pine Island Bay from the seabed underneath.
The Thwaites Glacier got named the Doomsday Glacier due to its massive size of 192,000 square kilometres.
It’s a tad smaller than the American state of Kansas, and it is melting at an alarming rate.
As a consequence, the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is still the most intense point of uncertainty for sea-level rise.
The glacier is located in a remote place. There are multiple perils specific to the region; few measurements have been carried close to the edge of the ice shelf, and, until now, nobody took a closer look at the cavity below.
“The good news is that we are now, for the first time, collecting data that is necessary to model the dynamics of Thwaite’s glacier,” stated physical oceanographer Anna Wåhlin of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
“This data will help us better calculate ice melting in the future. With the help of new technology, we can improve the models and reduce the great uncertainty that now prevails around global sea level variations,” she added.