Thwaites Glacier :
The scientists revealed one of the direct threats to the global sea-level rise, and its enormity sends a chill down the spine. Antarctica, this white desert is home to the world’s largest glaciers.
The researchers studying these glaciers to track possible threats and changes happening due to global warming found an alarming phenomenon happening due to the climate change that concerns not just one or two countries but the whole world.
Thwaites Glacier located on the west of Antarctica is threatened to break apart due to the increasing deep cracks both beneath and above. If the entire Thwaites glacier collapses, it could unleash a wave of disasters around the world.
Image credit: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA/OIB
Spanning about 120 kilometers (80 miles) and rising 800 – 1,200 meters (2,600 – 3,900 feet) at its grounding line, Thwaites glacier is the widest and highest extending glacier in the world, it is roughly the size of Florida. And this colossal enormity is what worrying the scientists.
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If this colossal glacier were to split and fall into the ocean, scientists estimated that the sea levels would rise by two feet or 65 centimeters, which is substantial enough to erase and change the coastlines of all the coastal countries.
And what’s more alarming is the glacier could collapse in the next 5 years, scientists stated.
[Take a look at the climate clock in NYC counting down earth’s deadline…]
According to the satellite data gathered over the past 2 decades, Thwaites Glacier is losing about a massive 50 billion tonnes of ice to the sea every year and is contributing 4% to the global sea-level rise.
This alarming finding is a result of US $50 million International Thwaites Glacier collaboration where scientists extensively studied the glacier for the past 5 years.
The fast melting of the glacier causing deep cracks is mainly because of human-propelled climate change.
The research data was published at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting on December 13.
“I visualize it somewhat similar to that car window where you have a few cracks that are slowly propagating, and then suddenly you go over a bump in your car and the whole thing just starts to shutter in every direction,” said Erin Pettit, a glaciologist at Oregon State University.
Right now, the colossal glacier is blocked by an underwater mountain 50 km into the ocean. Pettit stated it is like a cork waiting to burst.
The fractures and cracks in the ice are increasingly growing with every passing year. The warm waters beneath the already-melting glacier are eating it from below. With all the gathered evidence and observing increasing cracks, the researchers estimate that this entire Thwaites glacier could collapse in five years.
And when this happens, it could unleash the fast-melting and break down of other glaciers it was holding behind, releasing a massive armada of icebergs into the ocean which will rapidly increase the sea levels.
If you are thinking of stopping this monster from entering the ocean without bringing down the carbon emission and temperatures, you can forget about it as there is no stopping now.
An iceberg that can change the shape of the landmass, the Thwaites glacier is called the ‘Doomsday Glacier’. And right now it’s not the question of how but when.
[Find out how a massive rainforest once thrived in Antarctica.]