Glaciers with their changing physical form and characteristics provide evidence of climate change. Now according to a new study published in the Journal Nature Geoscience, the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is melting at a rate that’s significantly faster than previously expected. Scientists who conducted the study noted that the glacier’s retreat has been happening at a rate of around 2.1 kilometers per year. This is more than twice the average rate of melting.
The study warned that the Thwaites Glacier is in danger of melting completely. It’s one of the biggest glaciers in Antarctica and should be considered for possible destruction.
Antarctica Thwaites glacier is melting “twice the rate observed by satellite at the fastest retreating part of the grounding zone between 2011 and 2019. “
The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could raise the global sea level by about three to ten feet. In 2020, experts warned that its melting could cause severe flooding and submerge coastal areas.
“Our results suggest that pulses of very rapid retreat have occurred at Thwaites Glacier in the last two centuries, and possibly as recently as the mid-20th Century,” said marine geophysicist Alastair Graham, also the lead author of the paper.
The Thwaites Glacier has been one of the worst-hit areas by global warming and climate change. In 2020, an estimate noted that if the entire glacier completely disappears, it could contribute to about four percent of the sea-level rise caused by climate change. Scientists warned that the effects of the collapse of the glacier could reach as far as New York.
The study noted that the glacier’s retreat has been happening at a rate of around 2.1 kilometers per year. According to the study’s lead author, geophysicist, Alastair Graham, the glacier’s pulse of rapid melt could have happened during the last two centuries.
According to Sea Level Rise Viewer, a web application developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the collapse of the glacier can devastate southern Louisiana and Mississippi.
From 1980 to 2017, the glacier lost over 600 billion tons of ice. In 2020, scientists were able to find warm water underneath the ice sheet for the first time. The water temperature at the location where the ice was melting was recorded at around 2 degrees Celsius above the freezing point.