Scientists: Doomsday Glacier ‘In Trouble’, Amazing Processes Discovered Beneath It
As climate change accelerates, Thwaites Glacier, called the Doomsday Glacier, is rapidly changing.
Every year it dumps billions of tons of ice into the ocean, which is about 4% of the annual sea level rise. Particularly rapid melt occurs at the point where the glacier meets the seafloor, which has receded nearly 14 kilometers since the late 1990s, exposing a large chunk of the glacier to relatively warm ocean water.
The total collapse of Thwaites itself could cause sea levels to rise by more than 70 centimeters, enough to flood many cities.
The ice shelf could collapse much sooner than thought.
To better understand its changes, a group of American and British scientists from the International Thwaites Glacier Association went to the glacier.
Using a hot water drill, they drilled a hole 600 meters deep in the ice and sent various instruments down for five days to take measurements in the glacier.
A torpedo-like robot called Icefin was sent out, which allowed them to access areas that were previously nearly impossible to explore. The remote-controlled apparatus took pictures and recorded information about the temperature and salinity of the water, as well as ocean currents.
He was able to “swim up to these really dynamic places and collect data from the sea floor,” Britney Schmidt, an assistant professor at Cornell University and lead author of one of the articles on the topic, told CNN .
The results of the study paint “a very subtle and complex picture,” said Peter Davies , an oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey and lead author of another paper.
Scientists have found that even though the glacier is retreating, the rate of melt under much of the flat portion of the ice shelf has been slower than expected. According to the study, the melting rate averaged between 2 and 5.4 meters per year, which is less than estimated.
Melting is being suppressed by a layer of colder, fresher water at the base of the glacier, between the ice shelf and the ocean, according to the study.
“The glacier is still in trouble,” Davis concluded in a statement, adding: “We have found that, despite a little melting from the inside, the glacier is still rapidly retreating, so it doesn’t seem like much effort is needed to get the glacier out of balance.” “.