The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica dubbed the “Doomsday Glacier,” is a massive ice sheet the size of Florida that is currently being studied by scientists due to its potential to contribute to significant sea level rise if it were to collapse.
Recent findings using a torpedo-like robot named Icefin have revealed that the glacier’s small ice shelf, which acts as a crucial buffer against sea level rise, is starting to show cracks and “staircase” formations, indicating rapid changes as climate change accelerates.
Icefin Station: A Closer Look by A Recent Study
To better understand the changes happening in the Thwaites Glacier, researchers sent the Icefin robot almost 2,000 feet below the surface via a bored hole. The robot collected crucial data including water temperature and salinity, as well as images and videos of the ice shelf.
Britney Schmidt, a Cornell University professor and lead author of one of two papers about the findings published in the journal Nature, explained that the robot could “swim up to these really dynamic places and take data from the sea floor all the way to the ice.”
The collected data provides a nuanced picture of the glacier’s melting rate, revealing that it is melting slower than previously projected, averaging 6.5 to 17.7 feet per year. However, despite the slow melting rate, the glacier is still experiencing rapid retreat, meaning that it doesn’t take much to push it out of balance.
Warnings of Collapse
Massive cracks in the ice shelf have caused particular concern among researchers, as they could accelerate melting and eventually lead to an “ice shelf collapse.”
The consequences of such an event could be catastrophic, potentially contributing to a sea level rise of more than two feet and posing a grave threat to coastal communities worldwide.
Peter Davis, British Antarctic Survey oceanographer, and lead author on the second paper about the findings cautioned that “the glacier is still in trouble” and that it’s not a matter of whether the Thwaites Glacier will collapse, but rather when.
Preparing for Disaster
Studying the Thwaites Glacier and its potential for collapse is crucial, as the consequences of such an event will impact everyone, regardless of how remote the location may seem.
By understanding the changes happening in the glacier and its ice shelf, scientists can better prepare for when disaster inevitably strikes.
It’s essential to note that the Thwaites Glacier is not the only glacier in Antarctica experiencing changes. As climate change accelerates, many glaciers around the world are melting at unprecedented rates, contributing to rising sea levels and threatening coastal communities.
Results of the Study
The Thwaites Glacier’s potential for collapse highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and its impacts.
While studying the glacier and its ice shelf provides crucial insights into the potential consequences of collapse, it’s crucial to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the effects of climate change.
By working together to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our planet, we can mitigate the risks of catastrophic events like the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier and protect the future of our planet and its inhabitants.
What is the “Doomsday” glacier?
The ice formation in Antarctica at the southern tip of the Earth is known by its official name, the Thwaites Glacier. If it were to detach from its host glacier, it would have the potential to raise global sea levels by more than 2 feet (65 centimeters). However, this event is not anticipated to take place for several hundred years.
The most recent findings are the result of a large worldwide study effort that has been going on for a number of years and costing a total of fifty million dollars.
The goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of the glacier that is the widest in You may get additional information from the organizations that are leading the charge to monitor Thwaites.
Is the glacier of Doomsday melting faster?
Research that was published before the end of 2022 did find evidence of rapid melting, and it is anticipated that the form and size of Thwaites will exhibit considerable change over the next five years.
Nevertheless, the glacier is not just melting at a quicker rate; there is now fresh data suggesting that it is really splitting apart.
According to news that surfaced this week, scientists saw a shimmering critical moment in the chaotic breakdown of Thwaites using a pencil-shaped robot that measured 13 feet in length and swam under the grounding line at the place where the ice first juts over the water.
According to Britney Schmidt, the developer of the robot and a polar scientist at Cornell University, “it’s melting so fast, there’s literally stuff gushing out of the glacier.” This is a crucial phase in the process.
According to the Associated Press, prior to this discovery, scientists did not have any observations from this crucial but difficult-to-reach spot on Thwaites.
However, using a robot known as Icefin that was lowered down a narrow hole measuring 1,925 feet (587 meters), scientists were able to see how important crevasses are in the fracturing of the ice. This fracturing of the ice is the process that places the greatest strain on the glacier, even more so than melting.
How does Antarctica’s Doomsday glacier affect the world?
The rise of the world’s oceans by a few feet can be a significant issue.
Even a moderate rise in sea level can have detrimental consequences on coastal ecosystems further inland when sea levels are rising at the rate they have been.
According to National Geographic, rising sea levels can result in destructive erosion, flooding of wetland areas, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soil with salt, and the loss of habitats for fish, birds, and plants.
All of these factors have an effect on how we eat and our susceptibility to disease. If there is nowhere for rivers to drain into the ocean, for example, flooding rivers that are located far inland might be made more dangerous for a longer period of time.
How do climate change, rising oceans, and the “Doomsday” glacier relate?
One of the most pressing climate dangers is rising sea levels, and many low-lying islands and coastal regions are already experiencing the repercussions of this phenomenon. Annual losses to fishing enterprises and constructed dwellings are reported in these places.
According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, increased sea levels make hurricanes and other types of storms more dangerous by causing storm surges and flooding to be more severe.
In a separate aspect, increasing ocean temperatures imply that storms are able to take in warmer water with greater ease and keep it for a longer period of time, which causes them to dump potentially hazardous rainfall further inland.
Infrastructure and livelihoods will be destroyed, and enormous swathes of land will become uninhabitable as a result of higher seas and the floods that are caused by them.
According to the findings of the researchers at Woods Hole, around 770 million people, or about 10% of the world’s population, live in coastal regions that are less than 5 meters (or approximately 15 feet) above the level of the high tide line.
It is possible that by the end of the 21st century, rising seas will compel as many as 100 million of them to move as a result of the effects of climate change.
When compared to the average sea level from 1986-2005, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts that global sea levels could rise between 1.4 and 2.7 feet by the year 2100 if significant action is not taken to cool the atmosphere. This prediction was made without taking into account any other factors.
A rise in sea level might cost both wealthy and developing nations dearly in terms of human lives, missed economic opportunities, and the expenses of recovery.
Can we stop Thwaites’s “Doomsday” glacier from melting?
The photographs obtained from the underwater robot provided some encouraging information. A significant portion of the flat underwater region that was studied is melting considerably more slowly than the experts anticipated.
However, this is only partially good news: “That doesn’t really change how much ice is coming off the land part of the glacier and driving up sea levels,” said Peter Davis, an oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey who was the lead author of one of the most recent studies. Davis was responsible for leading the research team that conducted the study.
Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who wasn’t part of the research, told the Associated Press that the results help to understand how Thwaites is declining. Scambos wasn’t involved in the studies himself.
“Unfortunately, this will still be a huge issue a hundred years from now,” Scambos said. “It’s just the way it is.” “But, thanks to our improved understanding, we now have some time to take measures to limit the rate at which sea levels are rising.”
Climate scientists and global leaders are increasingly of the opinion that limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which can largely be accomplished by limiting the burning of coal, oil, and gas NG00, 5.00%, could reduce the rise in sea level caused by melting glaciers and the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from approximately 10 inches to approximately 5 inches by the year 2100.
The buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels leads to a warming of the planet, and maintaining healthy seas is one of the most important things that can be done to mitigate this warming.
The recent findings regarding the Thwaites Glacier and its ice shelf indicate that rapid changes are occurring as a result of climate change.
While it may not be a matter of if the glacier will collapse but when studying the glacier provides crucial insights into the potential consequences of such an event and allows us to better prepare for when disaster inevitably strikes.
To slow down the melting process and reduce the risks of catastrophic events, it’s essential to take action to address climate change.
We can reduce our carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy sources, reducing our energy consumption, and conserving water. Governments can also implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the transition to a green economy.
Ultimately, slowing down the melting process of glaciers like Thwaites requires collective action and a commitment to protecting our planet for future generations. By working together, we can mitigate the risks of catastrophic events and ensure a sustainable future for all.