Climate change could cause a glacier in Antarctica to collapse

Climate change could cause a glacier in Antarctica to collapse

A giant from the white continent trembles, its size is similar to that of the United Kingdom and scientists have long known that the Thwaites Glacier is unstable and is melting. But finding warm water at the boundary where ice meets land makes the scenario worse.

Huge but fragile, preserving them is vital to our existence, since if they melt, sea level rise could spiral out of control and threaten entire populations. This is why the detection of a stream of warm water just below a glacier in Antarctica sounded alarms around the world.

“The water is more than two degrees above freezing. If its flow is sustained, it will eventually cause the Thwaites to melt, ”explained David Holland, director of the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at New York University.

Holland is part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), a mission led by the United States and the United Kingdom to investigate the glacier and its oceanic region.

In the investigation, images were taken and video was recorded of the rocky ridge below sea level that supports the huge floating ice shelf. Everything was done by Icefin, a torpedo-shaped robot that reached one of the most inaccessible places in Antarctica through a 700-meter-deep hole.

The robot arrived at the site where warm ocean waters meet an ice wall in front of the majestic Antarctic Thwaites Glacier, the point where this vast body of ice begins to melt.

Glaciologists describe the Thwaites as the "most important" and "most dangerous" glacier in the world. They also say the glacier of "Doomsday".

It is located in the Antarctic sector that is not claimed by any country, and empties into the Amundsen Sea, about 30 kilometers east of Mount Murphy, on the land of Marie Byrd.

With its increasingly advanced melting, the Thwaites is already responsible for 4% of global sea level growth. This ice giant contains enough water to raise the world's sea level by more than half a meter.

The melting of glaciers in the last two centuries is largely caused by human activity and the use of fossil fuels in transportation and industry that increased the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

By absorbing heat radiating from the earth's surface and slowly raising the temperature of the atmosphere, they are the cause of most of the global warming and glacier retreat in the last 50 years.

The research and analysis of the mission will continue, at least, for the next three years, in which it will be studied how the glacier limit evolves and what its movement is, the composition of its core and the characteristics of the ice and rock will be mapped. mother with radar data. Clues about its recent history will also be sought and ocean circulation and melt rates will be monitored.


Video: Larsen B Ice Shelf, 2041 IAE 2011 Antarctica (October 2020).