September 28, 2023

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Scientists have issued a dire warning: the “doomsday glacier” is on the verge of collapse

The state of West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is a cause for serious concern, scientists say, as a new study suggests it is in rapid retreat. Dubbed the “doomsday glacier”, the glacier has always been used as a predictor of global sea level rise. If the glacier melts completely, sea levels will rise by three to ten feet (91writes Unilad news site.

To collect enough evidence, a team of scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden launched a sophisticated orange robotic vehicle called “Run” loaded with imaging sensors during the 2019 mission. The team undertook a 20-hour mission that mapped a portion of the ocean floor in front of an iceberg the size of Houston. This allowed scientists to access the front of the glacier for the first time in history.

Over the past 200 years, within six months, the front of the glacier lost contact with the seafloor and moved at a rate of more than 2.1 kilometers per year. That’s more than twice the speed documented by satellites between 2011 and 2019.

“Our results suggest that there have been pulses of very rapid retreat on Thwaites Glacier over the past two centuries, and possibly even into the mid-20th century,” Graham said.

Thwaites is really holding its fingernails today, and should expect big changes on short timescales in the future — from one year to the next — as the glacier retreats beyond a shallow ridge in its bed.

– said Robert Larder, a marine geophysicist at the British Antarctic Survey and co-author of the study establishing this.

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As a result of a sudden breakup of ice, an incredible amount of fresh water is suddenly released into the ocean, causing the water to rise at once, like a large ice cube being released into a full glass – writes on Mashable.

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration 2020 Estimates of Sea Level Rise Due to Climate Change Four percent has so far only come from the Thwaites, and a sudden “total collapse” could raise sea levels by another 25 centimeters.

Evidence from a new study suggests that even the “doomsday” scenario lasts at least six months. It’s scary, but luckily, six months is enough for people living in low-lying, coastal areas to evacuate if necessary.

Cover image source: Getty Images