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

Katie Ramirez
February 5, 2019

The cavity has an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan - and NASA researchers described the find as "disturbing".

The cavern sits where almost 14 billion tons of ice used to be, all of which melted in the last few years. Thwaites has enough ice that if it all melted, global sea levels would rise a little more than two feet.

Scientists thought there might be some gaps between Thwaites Glacier and the bedrock below it, where ocean water could flow in and melt the icy glacier above it. 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.

Yet the huge size and fast-moving growth rate of the hole in Thwaites was called both "disturbing" and "surprising" by researchers.

"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it", said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine in the US.

"Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail".

"Study's lead author, Pietro Milillo of JPL said, "[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting. Hopefully, the upcoming worldwide collaboration will help researchers piece together the different systems at work under and around the glacier, the researchers said. It found Antarctica as a whole went from losing about 40 gigatons of ice per year in the 1980s to 252 gigatons per year over the last decade. A radar was used to peer through the ice to see to the bottom of the glacier.

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Understanding the unstable glacier is important for future predictions about sea level rise. The collaboration includes the U.S. National Science Foundation and British National Environmental Research Council. He would melt completely would be a sea level rise of 65 cm.

If this mysterious glacier were to "go bad"-glaciologist-speak for the process by which a glacier breaks down into icebergs and eventually collapses into the ocean-it might be more than a scientific curiosity".

"We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat, ' Mr Milillo said".

Any glacier melt is another sign of global warming.

According to the readings, the hidden void is but one ice casualty among a "complex pattern of retreat and ice melt" that's taking place at Thwaites Glacier, sectors of which are retreating by as much as 800 metres (2,625 ft) every year.

Changes in surface height at Thwaites Glacier's grounding line.

Researchers hope the new findings will help others preparing for fieldwork in the area better understand the ice-ocean interactions.

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