According to NASA, as a result of their exploratory research on the colossal Thuyts glacier in the Western Antarctic, “several disturbing discoveries” were discovered. Over the usual thinning of ice, they discovered a giant hollow — perhaps the size of an Eiffel Tower — growing at the bottom of a huge glacier.
The Thweights Glacier, about the size of Florida, once contained more than 14 billion tons of frozen water, enough to raise the sea level by more than 2 feet (65 centimeters). However, a huge amount of this colossal ice cube has melted over the past three years as a result of climate change, which has caused sea levels to rise by about 4 percent.
As reported in the journal Scientific achievementsThe researchers got a clearer picture of the plight of the glacier. Their results show that the Tewates Glacier suffers from extensive thinning, retreat and calving of ice, as well as from a 300-meter (1000-foot) hole in its western wing, which grows at an explosive rate.
"[The size of] The cavity under the glacier plays an important role in melting, ”said study leader Pietro Milillo from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) statement. "The more heat and water get under the glacier, the faster it melts."
A team led by NASA studied the glacier using satellites and specialized aircraft armed with penetrating radar to provide high-resolution data on the ever-changing shape and size of the glacier to researchers. This data also sheds some light on another concern about the ground line of the glacier, the point at which the glacier begins to drift off and swim into the sea. Studies have shown that the Tewates glacier exfoliates from the bedrock beneath it, meaning that most of the base of the glacier is exposed to warming waters. In turn, this makes the glacier even more susceptible to melting.
“For years, we suspected that the Thweates were not closely tied to the bedrock beneath it,” said Eric Rigno from the University of California, Irvine and JPL at NASA. “With the new generation of satellites, we can finally see the details.”
The Thweates Glacier plays an important role in the history of sea level rise and climate change, so there has never been more desire to study and understand it. Just this week, an icebreaker left Chile to launch a scientific expedition to the Thweights Glacier with the help of a number of other ships, explorers, airplanes and tagged wild seals.
“Understanding the details of how the ocean melts, this glacier is important for predicting its impact on sea level rise in the coming decades,” Rigno added.