Thwaites Glacier is ‘in trouble,’ scientists say after finding surprising formations under ice shelf

Source: The post is based on the articleThwaites Glacier is ‘in trouble,’ scientists say after finding surprising formations under ice shelfpublished in CNN on 16th February 2023

What is the News?

New research suggests that even low amounts of melting can potentially push a Thwaites Glacier further along the path toward eventual disappearance.

What is Thwaites Glacier?

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Every year, Thwaites Glacier sheds billions of tons of ice into the ocean, contributing about 4% of the annual sea level rise.

The complete collapse of the Thwaites itself could lead to a sea level rise of more than two feet (70 centimetres), which would be enough to devastate coastal communities around the world.

How is the Thwaites Glacier melting?

Thwaites Glacier
Source: BBC

Researchers have found that the flat topography beneath the glacier is melting slower than expected due to a layer of fresher water between the bottom of the ice shelf and the warmer ocean below.

However, a series of terraces and crevasses that reach up into the ice are expanding. When these crevasses open up, water funnels through them, bringing more water, salt, and heat into the ice. 

The crevasses widen further into cracks and fissures that destabilize the ice shelf even further. Those rifts could, in turn, become the primary trigger for the glacier’s collapse. 

About Glaciers Melting

According to a study published in January 2023, Glaciers are receding at unprecedented rates due to climate change and rising temperatures. Half the Earth’s glaciers will vanish by 2100, even if the world adheres to the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Impact of glaciers melting: Glaciers, which hold 70% of the Earth’s freshwater, currently encompass around 10% of the planet’s land area.

Melting glaciers raise sea levels dramatically, jeopardizing up to two billion people’s access to water and increasing the risk of natural disasters and extreme weather events like floods.

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