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Glacier Thwaites has a huge cavity below it, melted by deep ocean waters



Behind the huge iceberg Thwaites in Antarctica is an unexpected, huge cave. It had once held 14 billion tons of ice. But in just three years, she drifted into the South Ocean.

According to the NASA study, the void is caused by newly-discovered "hot water" fingers entering into the glacial cracks caused by rising climate changes. This water then gathered between the ice and the rocks, crushing the glacier.

"As more heating and water gets under the glacier, it's getting faster," said NASA researcher and scientist Pietro Milillo.

And underground ice erosion has disturbing implications.

Changing the thickness of the ice in the Thwaites glacier: (A) elevating the surface of the ice from the topographic map of the air and the ice bed with the MCoRDS radar radar in 2011, 2014 and 2016, marked with green, blue and brown along the T1-T2 and (B ) T3-T4 with bed height (brown) from (16). Earthing positions from MCoRDS data are marked with arrows with the same color coding. (C) Changing the altitude of the TDX ice area, h, from June 2011 to 2017, with 50 m contour lines in the altitude of the beds and markings every 1 km. Source: Scientific Progress
Camera iconChanging the thickness of the ice in the Thwaites glacier: (A) elevating the surface of the ice from the topographic map of the air and the ice bed with the MCoRDS radar radar in 2011, 2014 and 2016, marked with green, blue and brown along the T1-T2 and (B ) T3-T4 with bed height (brown) from (16). Earthing positions from MCoRDS data are marked with arrows with the same color coding. (C) Changing the altitude of the TDX ice area, h, from June 2011 to 2017, with 50 m contour lines in the altitude of the beds and markings every 1 km. Source: Scientific ProgressPicture: procures

Not only is the melting of ice more than previously discovered, it shows a glacier of a wide 160 km not firmly attached to the surface of the Antarctic continent.

This means that the mass of ice – the size of the Florida – can break and slip into the sea, much faster than projected.

Worse still, Thwaites Glacier acts as a kind of "stopping the door", preventing neighboring glaciers moving to the sea.

RELATED: How the Thwaites glacier keeps our future in ice

"Understanding Ocean Depletion Details This glacier is key to projecting its impact on rising sea levels in the coming decades," says NASR scientist Eric Rignot.

The radars penetrate the ice and a series of satellites, and everyone is trying to figure out what's going on with Antarctica as the world warms up.

The potential impact is enormous.

Unlike most parts of the North Pole, an enormous amount of southern ice is on the mainland.

The led on the water does not affect the sea level when it is melted.

But the new water that flows into the sea.

And Antarctica is a huge, ice-covered continent.

RELATED TO: Antarctica is an overwhelming potential threat to an ice cap

Only the Thwaites glacier holds enough ice above the sea level to raise the sea level by more than 65 cm if it dissolves.

Once they leave, the surrounding glaciers will not have an obstacle in their path, accelerating their melting and potentially releasing enough water to raise the sea level by as much as 2.4m.

NASA's new study shows that the Antarctic icebergs do not just cover the edges. Hot water melts them from below, accelerating sea level rise.
Camera iconNASA's new study shows that the Antarctic icebergs do not just cover the edges. Hot water melts them from below, accelerating sea level rise.Picture: AP, NASA

"For years we have doubted that Thwaites are not firmly bound to the foundation behind it," said author Rignot's study in NASA's statement. "Thanks to the new generation of satellites, we can finally see the details."

In order for the loss of these glaciers to lead to big city floods, such as New York, new research teams will travel to this, one of the most difficult areas available on Earth.

The United States National Science Foundation and the British National Research Research Council have launched a five-year field project The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. Your field observation will begin later this year.


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