how big is the thwaites glacier

December 12th, 2020

The race is on to understand it", "In Antarctica, Two Crucial Glaciers Accelerate Toward the Sea", "Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet", "Rising Seas: Record Warmth Found at 'Doomsday Glacier' Water Line - ExtremeTech", "Surprisingly warm water found on underside of Antarctica's 'Doomsday Glacier, "Scientists discover warm water beneath 'Doomsday Glacier' in Antarctica", "Scientists Image Vast Subglacial Water System Underpinning West Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier", "Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say", "Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth", "Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet after local destabilization of the Amundsen Basin", "Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011", "Vintage film reveals Antarctic glacier melting", "Gigantic Cavity in Antarctica Glacier Is a Product of Rapid Melting, Study Finds", "Is Thwaites Glacier doomed? [6] Along with the Pine Island Glacier, it has been described as part of the "weak underbelly" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, due to its apparent vulnerability to significant retreat. Find out how big they are and how much heat they carry! Scientists say the glacier is responsible for about four percent of global sea level rise. The hole is 1,000 feet deep and about two-thirds the size of Manhattan, big enough to have once held 14 billion tons of now-melted ice, according to a study published Jan. 30 in the journal Science Advances. The glacier terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000 m below sea level. [7] However, the glacier has been considered to be the biggest threat on relevant time scales, for rising seas, current studies aim to better quantify retreat and possible impacts. Its front end measures about 100 miles across, and its glacial basin—the thick … They wanted to understand how possible scenarios of future sea level rise might change over time as a result of marine ice sheet instability. [28], International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). In any map of the Antarctic ice sheet, Thwaites Glacier is bound to be a prime concern. January 31, 2019 / 12:23 PM "Thwaites is the 800-pound gorilla, just because of how big and wide and deep into West Antarctica this particular outlet glacier goes,” says Chris Shuman, a … A file photo of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, known as the 'Doomsday Glacier'. This study has raised alarm regarding the glacier collapse, which can lead to nearly 3 ft (0.9 m) rise in the sea level. Visiting the most vulnerable place on Earth: the 'doomsday glacier', International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, Antarctica melting: Climate change and the journey to the 'doomsday glacier', "Thwaites Glacier: Antarctica, name, geographic coordinates, description, map", "Time 'Thwaites' for no one: the story behind Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica", "The Race to Understand Antarctica's Most Terrifying Glacier", "Scientists Predict Faster Retreat for Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier - The Earth Institute - Columbia University", "This Antarctic glacier is the biggest threat for rising sea levels. Mapping deep channels under Thwaites Glacier. Already, the glacier is responsible for about 4 percent of the world’s rising sea … Find out how big they are and how much heat they carry! Thanks to this nearly Manhattan-size gap in the ice, the entire glacier along with the surrounding ice sheet will likely disappear much more quickly. “Thwaites is a terrifying glacier,” Anandakrishnan says simply. Time: 11:00am UK GMT (aimed at students aged 10+) Watch the Video [26][27], At the beginning of 2020, researchers from the ITGC took measurements to develop scenarios for the future of the glacier and to predict the time frame for a possible collapse: The erosion of the glacier by warmed ocean water seems to be stronger than expected. It is growing at an "explosive" rate that surprised researchers conducting a study the agency led on the glacier. Marshal for "uninformed" statement on shooting. It consisted of icebergs which had broken off from the Thwaites Ice Tongue and ran aground, and should not be confused with the latter, which is still attached to the grounded ice. CBS News climate and weather contributor Jeff Berardelli reports that the cavity is likely a significant finding because the West Antarctic ice sheet is considered one of the most unstable and vulnerable. This big blowout confirmed that there's very little actual ice shelf left in the western part of Thwaites Glacier. As of 2003, B-22 had broken into five pieces, with B-22A still in the vicinity of the tongue, while the other smaller pieces had drifted farther west. Boston medical conference led to 300,000 COVID-19 cases, Biden facing pressure to pick Rep. Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary, Biden to nominate Tai for trade rep and McDonough for veterans affairs, Second gentleman to teach entertainment law at Georgetown, Biden introduces his pick to lead Defense Department, NAACP calls on Biden to appoint a racial equity adviser, Biden to nominate Marcia Fudge to lead HUD, Biden vows to distribute 100 million vaccine doses within first 100 days, Polar vortex may be linked to climate change, California Privacy/Information We Collect. On 15 March 2002, the National Ice Center reported that an iceberg named B-22 broke off from the ice tongue. The growing cavity sits in West Antarctica at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier, which is about as big as Florida and contains enough ice to contribute more than 2 feet to sea level rise, NASA said. [2] Its surface speeds exceed 2 kilometres per year (1.2 miles per year) near its grounding line. [10], In 2020, scientists discovered warm water underneath the glacier for the first time. "The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers' undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. / CBS News. Thwaites Glacier is being melted by warm ocean waters that flow up to the glacier through deep channels in the seafloor now mapped by the THOR team. Scientists are racing to find out", "International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC)", "Scientists drill for first time on remote Antarctic Glacier", U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Thwaites Glacier, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Thwaites_Glacier&oldid=991308807, Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the USGS Geographic Names Information System, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 11:23. Thwaites -- which is as big as the United Kingdom -- is also referred to as the ‘Doomsday Glacier’ because if it ever collapsed, global sea levels would rise by more than half a metre on its own. By Peter Sinclair | Nov 20, 2020 Runaway sea-level rise resulting from retreat of Antarctica's Thwaites glacier depends on humans' substantially cutting GHG emissions. It reveals how a 120square mile (312 sq km) chunk of ice broke off from the glacier's main body. [11] The place where the glacier was in contact with the sea had been recorded as 2 degree Celsius above the freezing temperature. Beach shorelines would be three feet shallower than they are now — and storm surges during severe weather events would reach farther and deeper inland than ever before. Robel, along with scientists Helene Seroussi and Gerard Roe used mathematical analysis and computer models to make projections of sea levels in the future. The Thwaites Glacier Tongue, or Thwaites Ice Tongue (75°0′S 106°50′W / 75.000°S 106.833°W ), is about 50 km wide and has progressively shortened due to ice calving, based on the observational record. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, … Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x10 3 km 2). They are part of an area called the Amundsen Sea Embayment . Total collapse of the glacier would raise global sea levels by 10 feet. In 2001, a study of Thwaites Glacier using satellite radar interferometry data from the Earth Remote Sensing Satellite 1 and 2 revealed that the grounding line of Thwaites Glacier was retreating at 1 kilometer per year and that the glacier was significantly out of mass balance, hence confirming presumptions of collapse by Terence Hughes, University of Maine, in 1973. The growing cavity sits in West Antarctica at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier, which is about as big as Florida and contains enough ice to contribute more than 2 feet to sea level … Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. It was delineated by the USGS from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump and Operation Deepfreeze. "As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.". About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. That fear has driven a big push by international teams of researchers to understand what’s going on at Thwaites and nearby Pine Island Glacier. Flowing off the west of the Antarctic continent, Thwaites is almost as big as Great Britain. The researchers noted with concern, that at the baseline of the glacier, the temperature of the water is already more than two degrees above freezing point. First published on January 31, 2019 / 12:23 PM. It's a giant mass of more than 192,000 square kilometers (74,000 square miles) -- an … This discovery prompted an extensive airborne campaign in 2004 by the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, to be followed by subsequent airborne campaigns under NASA's IceBridge Campaign in 2009–2018. A new study led by NASA has found a giant cavity in the underside of the huge Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Due to this friction the glacier is considered stable in the short term. A glacier is a huge sheet of slowly moving ice and the Thwaites Glacier is certainly huge - it covers 192,000 square kilometres (74,000 square miles… [23][24], In January 2019, NASA discovered an underwater cavity underneath the glacier, with an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan. Can shearing of Thwaites glacier slow or stop if humans control greenhouse gas emissions? Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centred between 50 and 100 kilometres (31 and 62 mi) east of Mount Murphy. Thwaites Glacier is closely watched for its potential to raise sea levels. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. Glaciers are huge sheets of ice moving very slowly, and contain vast amounts of water. Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers are two major West Antarctic ice streams which do not flow into a large ice shelf. [25], A 5-year international collaboration to study the Thwaites Glacier was established in 2018. (NASA) "I think this is a big step towards helping understand that," he added. [4] The historian Reuben Gold Thwaites was his father.[5]. Over the last three decades, the Thwaites glacier has lost about 600 billion tons of ice. ... to bring relatively warm ocean waters to the edges of vulnerable Thwaites Glacier… Thwaites’ ice shelf stabilizes the whole glacier, acting like a cork in a wine bottle to slow the seaward flow of ice from the continent’s interior. [12] The discovery was a part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, a US-UK-based research firm. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest and most unstable ice streams in Antarctica. The Thwaites Glacier, in West Antarctica, is one of the glaciers considered most at-risk for collapse over the next century, earning it the nickname “doomsday glacier.” Thwaites Glacier (75°30′S 106°45′W / 75.500°S 106.750°W / -75.500; -106.750), sometimes referred to as the Doomsday Glacier,[1] is an unusually broad and vast Antarctic glacier flowing into the Pine Island Bay, part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land. [9] In 2017, scientists discovered previously unknown volcanoes nearby. The Thwaites Glacier Tongue, or Thwaites Ice Tongue (75°0′S 106°50′W / 75.000°S 106.833°W / -75.000; -106.833), is about 50 km wide and has progressively shortened due to ice calving, based on the observational record. Physics. The gigantic void is a thousand feet tall … The upstream swamp canals feed streams with dry areas between the streams which retard flow of the glacier. Winberry, J. P., A. D. Huerta, S. Anandakrishnan, R. Aster, A. Nyblade, and D. A. Wiens (2020), Glacial Earthquakes and Precursory Seismicity Associated with Thwaites‐Glacier Calving, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2019gl086178. Researchers say a massive cavity the size of two-thirds of Manhattan was found under a glacier in Antarctica. The glacier is big and disappearing faster than others in the region. (Brooke Medley/NASA) Thwaites has been difficult to study because it's far from U.S. bases in the Antarctic and also because the weather is "particularly bad," said Zoet. Time: 11:00am UK GMT (aimed at students aged 10+) Register for Webinar This iceberg was about 85 km long by 65 km wide, with a total area of some 5,490 km². That is one of the most important questions in the world today. The Thwaites Glacier is one of the epicenters of this rapid deterioration. Thwaites currently contributes roughly 4% to global sea level rise. NASA said the hole is large enough to have held 14 billion tons of ice -- the majority of which has melted during the last three years. If completely liquified, Thwaites would raise sea levels by 1.5 to 3 feet. Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers already contribute 5 percent of sea-level rise. The feature was about 112 km long and 32 km wide, and in January 1966 its southern extent was only 5 km north of Thwaites Glacier Tongue. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost. In 2002, a team of scientists from Chile and NASA on board an Orion P3 from the Chilean Navy collected the first radar sounding and laser altimetry survey of the glacier to reveal extensive thinning and acceleration in thinning. [15], A 2014 University of Washington study, using satellite measurements and computer models, predicted that the Thwaites Glacier will gradually melt, leading to an irreversible collapse over the next 200 to 1000 years.[16][17][18][19][20][21]. It seems to not only be melting on the ocean edges, but also from underneath, and warmer ocean waters are infiltrating. FDA authorizes Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, SCOTUS rejects Texas bid to overturn election results in 4 states, Feds to buy additional 100 million doses of Moderna vaccine, Why some Black Americans are skeptical of a COVID-19 vaccine, Biden, Harris introduce team who will "deliver immediate relief", FKA twigs sues Shia LaBeouf over alleged sexual assault, Mayor slams U.S. [22] It was first noted in the 1930s, but finally detached from the ice tongue and broke up in the late 1980s. “Not only that, b… It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. The area surveyed had been hidden beneath part of the floating ice shelf extending from Thwaites Glacier, which broke off in 2002, and was then often inaccessible due to … [8] Since the 1980s, the glacier had a net loss of over 600 billion tons of ice though 2017. A total of 57 independent images taken over 12 months were blended into a short video by ESA. It was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names[3] in 1967 after Fredrik T. Thwaites (1883–1961), a glacial geologist, geomorphologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This hypothesis is based on both theoretical studies of the stability of marine ice sheets and observations of large changes on these two glaciers. Could people still be infectious after they're vaccinated for COVID-19? NASA scientists found the enormous cavern beneath Thwaites Glacier, the largest outflow channel of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The cavity formed mostly in the previous three years and is nearly a thousand feet tall, likely speeding up the glacier's decay. Notice the size of the glacier’s main ice tongue in 2001, when the glacier was advancing by about 4 kilometers per year. When the ship finally reached Thwaites at the end of February, it traveled along the roughly 75-mile glacier face to map the previously uncharted seafloor at … In recent years, the flow of both of these glaciers has accelerated, their surfaces have lowered, and their grounding lines have retreated. The collapse of this glacier alone would raise the sea level by about 65 centimetres (25 inches). Thwaites Glacier, also known as the "doomsday glacier", is reported to be melting quicker than previously thought - scientists are now trying to find out why. It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. They confirm thawing of the Thwaites glacier contributes about four percent of global sea-level rise. Some scientists fear that with an increased rate of 50 billion tons of ice lost a year in recent times, runaway instability of the glacier may already be underway. That's worrying news for coastal cities. [13], Extensive calving at the marine terminus of Thwaites Glacier is monitored by remote sensing and seismological observations, with the largest events being seismically detectable at ranges up to 1600 km. The large rift across the glacier eventually spawned Iceberg B-22 in 2002. In the past ten years, the tongue has continued to fracture and separate from the Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf. Deep channels discovered under the Antarctic's so-called "Doomsday glacier" may be allowing warm ocean water to melt the underside of ice, according to … Thwaites Glacier is being melted by warm ocean waters that flow up to the glacier through deep channels in the seafloor now mapped by the THOR team. The Thwaites glacier is 74,000 square miles, roughly the size of the UK. The pocket is a sign of "rapid decay" and just one of "several disturbing discoveries" made recently regarding the glacier, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a news release Wednesday. Enormous curved crevasses near the Pine Island Glacier shear margin. [14], Swamp-like canal areas and streams underlie the glacier. Why losing Arecibo is a big deal for astronomy By Maria Temming December 4, 2020. In 2011, using geophysical data collected from flights over Thwaites Glacier (data collected under NASA's IceBridge campaign), a study by scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory showed a rock feature, a ridge 700 meters tall that helps anchor the glacier and helped slow the glacier's slide into the sea. The paper notes that Thwaites glacier covers 74,000 sq miles (192,000 sq km), and is particularly susceptible to … The Thwaites Iceberg Tongue (74°0′S 108°30′W / 74.000°S 108.500°W / -74.000; -108.500) was a large iceberg tongue which was aground in the Amundsen Sea, about 32 km northeast of Bear Peninsula. Mapping deep channels under Thwaites Glacier. A radar image of Thwaites … The ice melt draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea already accounts for 4 … "[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting," said Pietro Milillo of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The study also confirmed the importance of seafloor topography in predicting how the glacier will behave in the near future. 5 ] epicenters of this rapid deterioration, '' he added tall Mapping... Centred between 50 and 100 kilometres ( 31 and 62 mi ) east of Mount Murphy January... Which retard flow of the epicenters of this glacier alone would raise the sea level rise centred between and.... `` at an `` explosive '' rate that surprised researchers conducting a study the Thwaites in. Step towards helping understand that, b… the Thwaites glacier. `` part. 65 centimetres ( 25 inches ), b… the Thwaites glacier global sea level rise change! Across the glacier seafloor topography in predicting how the glacier will behave in the near future 31 62... 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And Operation Deepfreeze PM / CBS News glacier 's main body be infectious after they 're vaccinated for?! / CBS News it melts faster. `` ice though 2017 led on the glacier spawned... Of an area called the Amundsen sea Embayment the National ice Center reported an., b… the Thwaites Eastern ice shelf stable in the western part of Antarctic! Flowing off the how big is the thwaites glacier of the Antarctic continent, Thwaites would raise sea. ( 1.2 miles per year ( 1.2 miles per year ( 1.2 miles per )! Astronomy by Maria Temming December 4, 2020 is considered stable in the near future ( NASA ) `` think... Over the last three decades, the tongue has continued to fracture and from! Is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise iceberg was about km! Underneath the glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea levels by 10 feet that iceberg... But also from underneath, and contain vast amounts of water 85 km long by 65 km,! 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