EM – Study: Shelf holding back major Antarctic glaciers could break open in 5 years

0

December 13 (UPI) – Scientists warned Monday that an ice shelf containing a crucial Antarctic glacier could break open within the next five years, potentially increasing sea level rise sharply.
A report presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in New Orleans said a number of newly discovered weaknesses are causing the eastern Thwaites Ice Shelf, which supports a third of the Thwaites Glacier the size of Florida, to “lose its footing.” a submarine shoal that stuck it.
Ad

December 13 (UPI) – Scientists warned Monday that an ice shelf containing a crucial Antarctic glacier could break up within the next five years, potentially increasing sea level rise significantly.

A report presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in New Orleans said a number of newly discovered weaknesses are causing the eastern Thwaites Ice Shelf, which supports a third of the Thwaites Glacier the size of Florida, to “lose its footing.” a submarine shoal that stuck it.

Using satellite data, ground penetrating radar and GPS measurements, the researchers found worrying cracks in the shelf that spread into its central area at speeds of up to 2 kilometers per year, propelled by a warming ocean.

At this rate, they found that “the final collapse of the last remaining ice shelf of the Thwaites Glacier by intersecting rifts with hidden basal crevices can be initiated within just five years”.

The Eastern Thwaites Ice Shelf is the “floating terminus” of the massive Thwaites Glacier, sometimes referred to as the Doomsday Glacier, one of the fastest moving glaciers in Antarctica that is already up to 4% of the global Sea level rise contributes.

The shelf serves as a dam to slow the flow of ice from the continent into the ocean, and if it breaks apart, the authors warned, the Thwaites Glacier will increase its current contribution to sea level rise by up to 25% / p> Scientists have warned that a complete collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could cause sea levels to rise several meters, putting millions of people in coastal areas at risk. It also acts as the fulcrum for the rest of the Antarctic ice sheet, which contains enough ice to cause global sea levels to rise another 10 to 13 feet.

“Thwaites is the widest glacier in the world,” said Ted Scambos, senior researcher at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

“In the last 30 years it has doubled its flow rate, and the glacier as a whole holds enough water to raise the sea level by more than 60 m. And it could lead to an even larger rise in sea level up to 3 m if it sinks. ” the surrounding glaciers with. “

Keywords:

Glacier,Thwaites Glacier,Ice shelf,Antarctica,Glacier, Thwaites Glacier, Ice shelf, Antarctica,,,