Huge cavity in Antarctic glacier signals rapid decay

Thwaites Glacier acts like a giant cork that holds back the West Antarctic Ice Sheet More

Their findings show that Thwaites Glacier is suffering from extensive ice thinning, receding, and calving, as well as a 300-meter (1,000-foot) hole inside its west wing that's growing at an "explosive" rate.

Researchers say a massive cavity the size of two-thirds of Manhattan was found under a glacier in Antarctica. It is now responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise and holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet. West Antarctica, home to some of the fastest-flowing and fastest-melting glaciers, accounts for the bulk of the loss calculated in the new work.

However, the researchers say that the size and growth rate of the hole surprised them.

"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it", said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine in the US.

There's a giant void hiding under the Antarctic ice, and it's growing larger and more menacing by the day, a new study using satellite data finds. 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. Hopefully, the upcoming global collaboration will help researchers piece together the different systems at work under and around the glacier, the researchers said. Even more disturbing, the researchers say it lost most of this ice volume over the last three years alone.

About the extent of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is as of now in charge of around 4 percent of worldwide ocean level ascent. Rather, researchers utilize satellite or airborne instrument information to watch includes that change as an ice sheet liquefies, for example, its stream speed and surface stature. The Rock under the glacier is much deeper than the level of the sea.

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In addition, at the moment, the glacier plays the role of a "backup" for the neighboring ice massifs.

The US National Science Foundation and British National Environmental Research Council have initiated a five-year field project, The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration.

There's no way to monitor Antarctic glaciers from ground level over the long term.

While Thwaites is certainly a hard place to reach, a five-year expedition by the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration to study the glacier will begin this summer.

For Thwaites, "We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat", Millilo said. The Thwaites Glacier melting could also lead to nearby glaciers melting, which could lift sea levels around the world an additional eight feet.



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