October 2, 2022
Study suggests Doomsday Glacier, which may raise sea level, is on the verge of collapse

Study suggests Doomsday Glacier, which may raise sea level, is on the verge of collapse

The Thwaites, one of the largest glaciers in the world, is larger than Suriname and nicknamed the “Doomsday Glacier” or “Apocalypse Glacier”, located in West Antarctica and its collapse, which could raise the level several meters from the sea, could be on the verge of Occurrence. A study published in the scientific journal natural earth sciences This month he found that at some point in the past two centuries, the ice extent analyzed reached a retreating velocity equivalent to 2.1 kilometers per year — twice what scientists have observed in the past decade.

The massive ice shelf is losing the area of ​​its submerged portion as the planet warms, and although it is melting today at less than 2.1 kilometers per year, determining how it behaved in the past helps predict how it will behave in the future. The result thus suggests that Thwaites may be about to experience a fast-paced change once again.

The relief analyzes conducted by the researchers show the rapid retreat of a mountain range close to the glacier, indicating that major changes could begin within months, if the grounding area (the submerged portion, through which it is anchored to the sea floor) begins to separate. According to the study, ice loss on Thwaites Glacier is “a source of significant uncertainty for future sea level projections.” The warm waters supplied the current cavity of the ice shelf with heat, melting it from below and making it vulnerable to uncontrolled retreat.

Scientists came to these conclusions by studying a more prominent group of ice, submerged at an altitude of 670 meters. It turned out to be an old part of the grounding area that went off. A rate of retreat from 2.1 km to 2.3 km has been determined at this edge, and it becomes more impressive when compared with other glaciers. For example, those in the Amundsen Sea maintained an average of only 2 km per year for three decades.

To collect data on the accumulator, the scientists used an underwater autonomous vehicle, which recorded signs of ice caused by tides. It is precisely these signs, which they call “ribs”, that allow us to say that in the past two centuries, accelerated retreats have occurred on the ice shelf. According to the study, the marks left by the impact of water on the submerged ice sheet are a rare example to be found.

Detailed images of the marks left by the tides progress in high resolution

“Based on the combined width of the ribs (approximately 0.1 m to 0.4 m) and assuming daily slack rates of 6 m to 8 m per day, we estimate that the daily rate of ice loss exceeds 1,000 kg per day per meter of ice. Grounding flux is needed Thermal over 600 watts per square meter to melt this amount of ice.

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Scientists point out that from the signs found, it is possible to predict the evolution of the ice sheet from now on through the difficult process of building models that replicate the exact sequence of movements of the Earth’s line along the edge, including tidal movement and the formation of glacial plains in Analytics.

Understanding the recent history of the Thwaites glacier and the processes that interfere with its rate of melting, according to the research, is key to projecting Antarctica’s contributions to future sea level rise. This process has the potential to threaten coastal communities and ecosystems.