Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Science | By

Here's How Much Ice Antarctica Is Losing-It's a Lot

Here's How Much Ice Antarctica Is Losing-It's a Lot

The massive cavity is about two-thirds of the area of Manhattan and is said to be nearly 1,000-feet tall and growing.

Thwaites Glacier, approximately the size of Florida, once contained over 14 billion tons of frozen water, enough to raise the world's sea level by over 2 feet (65 centimeters).

A massive cavity that is two-thirds the size of Manhattan and almost the height of the Chrysler Building is growing at the bottom of one of the world's most risky glaciers - a discovery that NASA scientists called "disturbing".

"He explained: "[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting. The common thread among them is the infiltration of relatively warm ocean water below the ice, thinning it and causing the glaciers to flow out to sea faster.

The study was published online yesterday (Jan. 30) in the journal Science Advances.

NASA says that the findings highlight the need for detailed observations of the undersides of Antarctic glaciers as a way to calculate how fast sea levels are rising globally due to climate change.

It holds enough ice to raise the world oceans a little over 65cm and backstops neighbouring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 2.4 metres if all the ice were lost, according to the Daily Mail.

That's important to know, since Thwaites now accounts for about 4 percent of global sea level rise. The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is a joint project between the U.S. National Science Foundation and the British National Environmental Research Council with the aim of getting a better understanding of the glacier and how it will respond to climate change in the future.


Thwaites Glacier is located in West Antarctica, an area that is facing what could be runaway melt owing to geography and inescapable heat.

The huge cavity is under the main trunk of the glacier on its western side - the side farther from the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Instead, the team used airborne and satellite ice-penetrating radars to reveal the cavity.

"We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat, ' Mr Milillo said".

The glacier isn't retreating uniformly.

Much of that ice disappeared at an "explosive rate", scientists reported-likely melting only in the last three years.

In that region, the rate of grounding-line retreat doubled from about 0.6 kilometers a year from 1992 to 2011 to 1.2 kilometers a year from 2011 to 2017, researchers said. The melting of this glacier could lead to as much as 10 feet of sea level rise over the next century or so.

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