NASA warn ‘dangerous’ Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica on verge of COLLAPSE

Mindy Sparks
January 31, 2019

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 unsafe glaciers - a discovery that NASA scientists called "disturbing".

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

This huge opening at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier - a mass infamously dubbed the "most unsafe glacier in the world" - is so big it represents an overt chunk of the estimated 252 billion tonnes of ice Antarctica loses every year.

The hole, which is nearly 1,000 feet tall, was seen during the space agency's study of the disintegrating Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, NASA said Wednesday.

Scientists spotted the concealed void thanks to a new generation of satellites, Rignot noted.

Rignot and fellow researchers discovered the cavity using ice-penetrating radar as part of NASA's Operation IceBridge, with additional data supplied by German and French scientists.

These tools revealed that the ground had shifted substantially from 1992 to 2017, the scientists found.

"The size of a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting", lead author Pietro Milillo said in a statement.

The cavity can be seen in the center of the GIF in deep red. The mottled area (bottom left) shows extensive iceberg calving.

Researchers have previously warned that the huge Thwaites glacier could trigger a runaway ice sheet collapse which could raise global sea levels by 10 feet. Moreover, the glacier acts as a backstop for neighboring glaciers, meaning that it slows the rate at which they lose ice.

Thwaites is one of the hardest places to reach on Earth, but it is about to become better known than ever before.

The US National Science Foundation and British National Environmental Research Council are beginning a five-year field project to answer the most critical questions about its processes and features.

Thwaites Glacier, curiously, isn't melting in a uniform way.

"We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat, ' Mr Milillo said". Scientists have long thought that the glacier was not attached firmly to the bedrock beneath it.

Scientists have discovered a big cavity forming in the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. In this region, as the tide rises and falls, the grounding line retreats and advances across a zone of about 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers).

However, there's been more retreat than advancement as of late. The glacier has been coming unstuck from a ridge in the bedrock at a steady rate of about 0.4 to 0.5 miles (0.6 to 0.8 kilometers) a year since 1992. In turn, this makes the glacier even more susceptible to melting.

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