Thwaites has been an import point of interest for researchers in recent years, as the massive glaciers are melting an impressive pace, retreating by approximately y 800 meters (or 2625 feet) every year, which is quite concerning due to its impressive size, on par with that of the UK or the state of Florida.
It is estimated that the glacier will melt and vanish in a few hundred years, forcing the sea to rise by at least 0.5 meters (or close to two feet).
The massive glacier is also known under the nickname of Doomsday Glacier, as researchers fear could happen after the glacier melts. For now, Thwaites plays the role of a buffer between the warm water of the sea and other major glaciers. A collapse would expose the other glaciers to the warm water, further boosting the level of the sea by up to three meters (or nearly 10 feet), submerging many coastal regions across the world.
Two studies that were published earlier in September offer a glimpse of the future, and the premise is quite grim. Warm ocean waters are undermining the grounding line of the glacier, according to one of the papers.
A second study has revealed that Thwaites and the Pine Island Glaciers are affected by severe fractures, which can be observed with the help of satellite imagery. As the fractures become deeper, sun rays can warm the ice at a faster rate, accelerating the melting process even more.
The Antarctic ice sheet is also melting six times faster in comparison to the 1980s, as the amount of lost ice rose from 40 billion to 252 billion tons. Concerns related to Thwaites are so severe that the US and UK have created a joint agency that explores the situation in an attempt to find possible solutions.
More information could be shared in the future.