The Thwaites Glacier, in Antarctica, with a surface area similar to that of the United Kingdom, has earned the nickname “the glacier of Last Judgment”, since its collapse could mean a drastic change in sea level Disasters and floods all over the planet.
As a result of this diagnosis, scientists have been monitoring their behavior for years and Latest estimates provide worrying data: a block of ice that slows down its melting and acts as a kind of “barrier”, It can be broken in less than five years, causing new fractures in Thwaites to separate, implying a significant increase in sea level globally.
That’s the conclusion reached by the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), a team of about 100 researchers funded by the US National Science Foundation and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council after investigating the glacier and nearby ocean for five years.
His work, which was presented this week at a specialist meeting held in New Orleans (USA), revealed important changes in the ice, surrounding waters and the region in which they are located on Earth.
Thwaites is located in West Antarctica and extends for 120 kilometers of frozen coastline. A third of the glacier, along its eastern side, flows more slowly than the rest, as it is contained by a floating ice shelf, a “sea mountain” that slows its flow. However, specialists warn that such a “seat belt” will not last long.
“Thwaites is the widest glacier in the world. It has doubled its exit velocity in the past 30 years, and the entire glacier contains enough water to raise sea level by more than 50 cm. That could lead to another rise,” warned Ted Schampos, lead research scientist. at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and President of the International Federation.
In the background, the warmer ocean waters whirling down the floating east side are attacking this glacier from all angles.Discover his team. For this reason, scientists explained that this phenomenon is melting the ice directly from below, and thus the glacier loses its control over the seamount. As a result of this situation, huge fractures were formed that increased and accelerated their disappearance.
Another problem is that the collapse of the glacier’s glacier mass would not only cause the sea level to rise immediately, but could also destabilize other glaciers in West Antarctica, causing a global climate catastrophe. Hence, the team considers its monitoring to be most important when it comes to measuring the effects of the climate crisis on rising sea levels.