Researchers May Have Learned Why Thwaites Is Melting So Fast

A new study elaborated by a team of researchers argues that deep channels found under the massive glacier may allow warm ocean water to melt ice on the inside, leading to accelerated melting and a substantial sea-level rise.

New research has revealed that the ocean floor is deeper than previously thought, and there are more channels that lead to the grounding line, a special area well ice interacts with the oceanic bed. Thwaites is already sensitive to climate change, which is more noticeable in recent years.

Massive ice loss

In the last three decades, Thwaites has lost an amount of ice, which is equal to the surface of the UK or the US state of Florida, as the speed at which ice melts is five times higher than it used to be.

If the glacier collapses, the sea level could rise by up to 64 centimeters (or approximately 25 inches). One of the aims of the researchers was to learn if a collapse may take place, and the amount of time left before the event might take place.

Processing data

During the new study, the team collected information by flying across the glacier and mapping the seafloor with the help of an ice break, with both vehicles carrying sophisticated sensors and tools. The size of the glacier makes it one of the most important ones in West Antarctica, as it has attracted the interest of many researchers in the past.

Unprecedented access to information related to the deep channels has offered the opportunity to learn more about the way in which the glacier could change in the future as researchers ran complex simulations. Further research would allow scientists to predict what will happen with the glacier in an accurate way, and climate change solution could delay its demise for a while.

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