Gigantic Hole Two-Thirds The Size Of Manhattan Found In Antarctica Glacier

03 February, 2019, 12:00 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • 017 thwaites glacer

"As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster", Milillo explained. They expected to find holes between the ice and the bottom of Thwaites, but the size and the fact that it grows so fast is what actually shocked them.

The largest part of the ice had melted within the last three years, and the resulting cavity is 350 meters high.

"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it", study co-researcher Eric Rignot, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and a principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

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The data NASA researchers used in the study came from a new generation of ice-penetrating radar used in NASA's Operation IceBridge airborne campaign. The scientists have calculated that the melting glacier has already contributed to about 4 percent of the total global sea level rise. Its ice alone can raise sea levels by 2 feet, but it also holds other neighboring glaciers in place, so losing it could also mean an additional 8 feet if all the ice would melt. With climate change likely to continue accelerating this melt, the implications for global sea level rise are considerable. An advanced satellite that is able to use a radar array that can penetrate the thick layers of ice was the primary tool that led to the discovery.

MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) image map is a composite of 260 swaths comprised of both Terra and Aqua MODIS images acquired between November 20, 2003 and February 29, 2004 of the Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica. The water level in the oceans will rise, which will allow offshore glaciers of Antarctica to break away from the ground, turning just in glaciers.

The glacier has become a case study since the researchers are attempting to learn how the cavity will influence the speed at which the glacier melts. In this region, as the tide rises and falls, the grounding line retreats and advances across a zone of about 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers). The glacier has retreated at a steady rate of about 0.4 to 0.5 miles (0.6 to 0.8 km) annually since 1992, the researchers found. But the research shows melt in East Antarctica-long thought to be the more stable region-has been underestimated. "The withdrawal of the basic line is one of many small water channels", says Milillo. The fastest retreat of floating ice is about a half mile a year with various areas thinning at up to 650 feet per year.

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