In the 1990s it was losing just over 10 billion tonnes of ice a year. Thwaites Glacier, also known as the "doomsday glacier", is reported to be melting quicker than previously thought - scientists are now trying to find out why. In the 1990s it was losing just over 10 billion tonnes of ice a year. This is the last in a series, Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier . This single glacier is responsible for 4% of global sea level rise. Even though this rate of grounding line retreat is steady, the rate of melting is incredibly high. The rate of glacier melt isn’t just impacted by ambient air temperature or solar radiation. (B) Shaded-relief bed topography (blue) with 50-m contour levels (white) (), grounding lines color-coded from 1992 to 2017, and retreat rates for 1992–2011 (green circle) versus 2011–2017 (red circle) in kilometer per year.Thick yellow arrows indicate CDW pathways (). Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT) September 9, 2020. The cause of the melting is thought to be the influx of relatively warm bottom-water drawn in from the wider ocean. This will allow the glacier’s potential sea-level contribution to be more accurately predicted. Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck First published on … The very large net loss of ice, between nearly 90 billion tons per year for the basin encompassing Thwaites and adjacent smaller glaciers, has caused a strong local reduction in the gravitational pull—with the mass now in the ocean, there is less mass on the ice … ... Over the past three decades, the rate of ice loss from Thwaites… It's a majestic sight, with its buoyant front, or "ice shelf", pushing far out to sea and kicking off huge icebergs. 1 Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. MELT is an ice-based project to understand how warm waters are affecting the Thwaites Glacier at the grounding line – the point where the glacier goes afloat to become ice shelf. Since the 1980s, Thwaites has lost 540bn tonnes of ice into the dark waters of the Amundsen Sea. And once it starts to retreat, it will just keep retreating.". Thwaites Glacier set to reach ‘tipping point’ that could lead to irreversible melting. On January 29, 2019, as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, over twenty scientists from the United Kingdom, United States, and Sweden embarked on the first ship-based research voyage to the Thwaites Glacier. But projecting future melt rates, and predicting whether Thwaites will trigger a runaway collapse, is nearly impossible without on-the-ground data. © 2020 BBC. Not only is more ice melting than previously detected, it shows the 160km wide Thwaites Glacier is not as firmly fixed to the surface of the Antarctic continent as believed. Thwaites Glacier, a sheet of ice about the size of Florida, lies in West Antarctica. VideoICYMI: Covid street fight and near cat catastrophe. The Thwaites Glacier seen from above. Glaciers everywhere might be melting, but only one has earned the most terrifying nickname: the Doomsday Glacier. A view of the sea ice from the Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker on the way to Thwaites Glacier. "Even before ice shelf break-up, the unpinning and thinning will reduce the buttressing effect of the ice shelf on the glacier upstream of it, resulting in increased ice flow velocity. Thwaites is the most worrying glacier in Antarctica because of its size — it is unusually wide, presenting a 75-mile front of ice to the ocean, without any rocks or mountains to hem it in. "And also, we know that its bed dips down, and it gets deeper and deeper underneath the ice sheet, which means that, theoretically, you can get a process called marine ice sheet instability. A plane was also flown back and forth across the shelf to measure small variations in the pull of gravity. Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos, .css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link{color:inherit;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited{color:#696969;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link:hover,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited:hover,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link:focus,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited:focus{color:#B80000;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link::after,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited::after{content:'';position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;z-index:2;}Johnson and EU chief seek to break Brexit deadlock. Thwaites Glacier is melting fast and if it destabilizes, it could trigger close to an 11-foot rise in sea level. The Thwaites glacier alone contains enough ice to increase global sea levels by about 50cm. The area surveyed had been hidden beneath part of the floating ice shelf extending from Thwaites Glacier, which broke off in 2002, and was then often inaccessible due to thick sea-ice cover. This in turn will further accelerate thinning of the glacier and grounding line retreat.". Glacier experts believe this is the one of the key processes driving ice loss at the Thwaites Glacier. Multiple studies show that, overall, Antarctica is losing ice. The Thwaites Glacier is the largest, most menacing source of rising sea levels all over the world, and it is melting at an alarming rate. This Antarctic colossus is melting at a rapid rate, dumping billions of tonnes of ice in the ocean every year and pushing up global sea-levels. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Antarctica's colossal Thwaites Glacier is melting fast - and scientists may have discovered why. But the current melting trend would suggest this situation won't last much longer, says BAS's Dr Robert Larter. That's worrying news for coastal cities. Over the past three decades, the rate of ice loss from Thwaites and its neighboring glaciers has increased more than five-fold. The growing cavity sits in West Antarctica at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier, which is about as big as Florida and contains enough ice to contribute more than 2 … A complete collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could significantly affect global sea levels, according to scientists. Such increases threaten flooding in coastal cities around the world, including the East Coast of the United States. Fig. ‘Teetering at the edge’: Scientists warn of rapid melting of Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday glacier’ Thwaites glacier is losing ice at an accelerating rate, threatening catastrophic sea-level rise The eastern ice shelf of the Thwaites Glacier seems to have been melting away from beneath much faster than anyone realized. But satellite monitoring indicates this glacier is melting at an accelerating rate. These deviations reflected the seafloor's undulations beneath the shelf. Glaciologists have described Thwaites Glacier as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier. Over the past three decades, the rate of ice loss from Thwaites and its neighboring glaciers has increased more than five-fold. EU and UK negotiators call in leaders in last ditch effort to secure a trade deal. Thwaites Glacier is not stable. Antarctica's colossal Thwaites Glacier is melting fast -- and scientists may have discovered why By Emma Reynolds, CNN Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT) September 9, 2020 In conducting their survey, scientists also now have a better idea of the general roughness of the seafloor. Thwaites Glacier is melting at an alarming rate, triggering fears over rising sea levels Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) In fact, it is one of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, melting at roughly twice the rate it did in the mid-1990s. In early 2019, researchers using ice-penetrating radar spotted a gigantic cavity on the underside of the glacier about two-thirds the size of … "When the Eastern Ice Shelf becomes unpinned, the ice will spread out and thin, eventually breaking up, as we can see is happening right now on the (central) glacier tongue," he told BBC News. Warm water has recently been recorded near the Thwaites Glacier grounding line—the location where the glacial ice rests on the seafloor. Undergraduate students contribute to Thwaites Glacier research January 27, 2020 From the ITGC Seven undergraduate engineering students at the University of Colorado Boulder spent a year working as part of the Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network (TARSAN) project team for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). No-one thinks this will happen in the short-to-medium term, but Thwaites is considered particularly vulnerable in a warming world, and scientists would like to know precisely how fast any changes might occur. Despite this stable rate of grounding-line retreat, the melt rate on this side of the glacier is extremely high. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. This tells them about the sorts of speeds ice further back in the glacier can achieve as it slides across rock and sediment. Antarctica's colossal Thwaites Glacier is melting fast -- and scientists may have discovered why By Emma Reynolds, CNN Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT) September 9, 2020 British and American scientists have had to temporarily suspend their investigations at Thwaites because of the Covid-19 crisis. How many trade deals has the UK done so far? What the researchers have produced, if you like, is a kind of "stickiness index" to additionally constrain the computer models. Currently, the study suggests West Antarctica as a whole is losing ice at a rate of about 159 billion metric tons each year—up from 53 billion tons in 1992. The melting rate has tripled since 2007, according to one new data point on the health of West Antarctica that was published this year. And the rate the Thwaites Glacier is melting has accelerated fivefold in the last 30 years. But satellite monitoring indicates this glacier is melting at an accelerating rate. The melting of floating ice as it makes contact with the ocean is a key reason why the glacier is coming unglued. Seawater that is a few degrees above freezing is melting the ice shelf from below. ICYMI: Covid street fight and near cat catastrophe. How are students travelling home for Christmas? The hole is startling for its sheer size, but it’s hardly the only one. Today, it's more like 80 billion tonnes. Despite this stable rate of grounding-line retreat, the melt rate on this side of the glacier is extremely high. A simpler solution would be to "tackle climate change.". Jordan said that suggestions of geoengineering and blocking the channels is not logistically feasible at such a remote site. The high cliffs at the ice front of Thwaites Glacier, which accounts for about 4% of global sea-level rise. Even though this rate of grounding line retreat is steady, the rate of melting is incredibly high. … "Thwaites Glacier itself is probably one of the most significant glaciers in West Antarctica, because it's so large, because we can see it's changing today," Dr. Tom Jordan, an aero-geophysicist at BAS who led the airborne survey, told CNN. If Thwaites were … The good and bad news about what Congress grasps about the most threatening glacier on Earth, the melting Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. But to understand how climate change is driving its decline, scientists need to send instruments through 2,000 feet of ice into the water below. On January 29, 2019, as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, over twenty scientists from the United Kingdom, United States, and Sweden embarked on the first ship-based research voyage to the Thwaites Glacier. Sea and airborne surveys show how Antarctica's mighty Thwaites ice stream can be melted from below. Images show massive Antarctic change in just 9 days, Greenland's ice sheet melted faster than ever before in 2019, study says. But recent measurements show that the melting of the glacier is speeding up, … The two datasets taken together now provide the best view yet of Thwaites' underlying topography. "I think this is a big step towards helping understand that," he added. Jordan said the next phase was to incorporate the data from the channels, some of them 2,600 feet (800 meters) deep, into simulations of how the ice sheet will respond into the future. Antarctica's colossal Thwaites Glacier is melting fast - and scientists may have discovered why. An Antarctic glacier, the size of Great Britain, is melting at an alarming rate, according to new research. The new information refines the volumes for ingressing warm water that can be considered possible under different scenarios. 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