Antarctica's doomsday glacier is getting close to disaster: studytext_fields
A glacier that contributes to 5% of Antarctica's involvement in sea-level rise around the world is melting faster than anticipated. Scientists said the Thwaites glacier aka doomsday glacier has been experiencing a sudden melting in the last six months.
The glacier is roughly the size of Gujarat and researchers are worried about the consequences of its fast retreat. Experts think the total loss of the West Antarctic glacier and surrounding icy basins will cause flooding in low-lying areas and submerge coastal regions.
The Thwaites Glacier has retreated 2.1 km per year. That's twice the rate observed by experts in the past decade. The high risk of glacier collapse is a threat to global sea level, said a study published in Nature Geoscience.
Lead author Alastair Graham said that the rapid retreat occurred in the last two centuries and possibly as recently as the mid-20th century. The team mapped a critical area of the seafloor in front of the glacier that provides crucial data. "It's as if you are looking at a tide gauge on the seafloor. It really blows my mind how beautiful the data is."
Co-author and marine geophysicist Rober Larter said that the glacier is holding on by its fingernails and we should expect big changes in a short time in the future. Once the glacier retreats beyond a shallow ridge in its bed, big changes can occur faster.
If the glacier fully dissolves, it will cause a 4% climate change-caused sea-level rise. With a sudden collapse of the glacier, which is also possible, the sea levels will rise 25 inches more.
A model on Sea Level Rise Viewer shows that the collapse of Thwaites Glacier has the potential to destroy southern Louisiana and Mississippi. It will also have considerable effects on New York. Los Angeles is likely to be spared.