September 24, 2022

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Climate crisis: “Doomsday glacier” Thwaites hanging by a thread | Life and knowledge

As it breaks up, moves away, and melts even faster, many coastal areas get wet feet very quickly.

Dubbed the ‘Doomsday Glacier’, it’s the size of Florida: a new study published in the journal Natural Earth SciencesThwaites Glacier, the largest in West Antarctica, shows its collapse. Now, new data from the ocean floor suggests it may be retreating faster than previously thought — and that could have dramatic implications for global sea levels.

▶︎ “Thwaites is really holding his fingernails today, and we should expect big changes on small timescales in the future, from one year to the next, as the glacier recedes onto a flat ridge in its bed,” Marine Geophysicist et al. -According to the study’s author, Robert Larder, “ Forbes“.

If the entire ice sheet fell into the ocean, it would raise sea levels by up to ten feet. This would be devastating for many coastal communities around the world.

Compare: In the past three decades, sea levels have risen by about 30 centimeters – causing severe flooding.

Alastair Graham, a marine geophysicist and lead author of the study at the University of South Florida, said: “Our results suggest that the Thwaites Glacier has experienced very rapid retreating vibrations over the past two centuries.

Researchers have studied geological features on the seafloor that formed during previous glacial retreats. They found that the glacier retreated at an average rate of 1.3 miles per year sometime in the past two centuries — albeit in just a few months. That’s twice as many satellites documented their retreat between 2011 and 2019.

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“A little kick against Thwaites can lead to a big reaction,” he said. Next, the team hopes to collect sediment from the seabed to get a more accurate dating of the glacier’s past movements.