Giant Cavity Beneath Antarctica Is Accelerating The Antarctic Glacier Melt

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Any glacier melt is another sign of global warming. Now, thanks to NASA’s Operation IceBridge, we learned that a large cavity has formed beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. According to a new study, the Thwaites Glacier region is experiencing a faster glacier melt than previously estimated.

“Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of Florida, and by itself reportedly holds enough ice to raise the global sea level by 2.1 ft (65 cm). Worse still, it stands between the warming waters and nearby glaciers, so if it goes others are expected to follow soon enough” according to NewAtlas.

“That makes Thwaites an important target for study. As part of Operation IceBridge, specialized planes fly over the frozen continent a few times a year and take radar readings of the ice below. The radar could peer through the ice and examine how much ice had been lost underneath,” New Atlas added.

Giant Cavity Beneath Antarctica Is Accelerating The Antarctic Glacier Melt

“We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it. Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail,” explained Eric Rignot, the senior co-author of the new study.

The giant cavity beneath Antarctica is located on the western side of Thwaites Glacier. Apparently, the cavity formed  “warmer waters lapped at the bottom of the glacier over the years,” as NewAtlas explained. “The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is preparing to embark on a field study on the ground during the Southern Hemisphere’s next summer, in late 2019 and early 2020. The researchers on the current study hope that these new results will help inform that team’s work,” the news portal continued.

“Such data is essential for field parties to focus on areas where the action is because the grounding line is retreating rapidly with complex spatial patterns,” concluded Pietro Milillo, the study’s leading author.


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