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… / CBS News. The Thwaites glacier is 74,000 square miles, roughly the size of the UK. This iceberg was about 85 km long by 65 km wide, with a total area of some 5,490 km². A file photo of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, known as the 'Doomsday Glacier'. On 15 March 2002, the National Ice Center reported that an iceberg named B-22 broke off from the ice tongue. It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. [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. © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centred between 50 and 100 kilometres (31 and 62 mi) east of Mount Murphy. The upstream swamp canals feed streams with dry areas between the streams which retard flow of the glacier. [23][24], In January 2019, NASA discovered an underwater cavity underneath the glacier, with an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan. [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]. 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. 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 paper notes that Thwaites glacier covers 74,000 sq miles (192,000 sq km), and is particularly susceptible to … Notice the size of the glacier’s main ice tongue in 2001, when the glacier was advancing by about 4 kilometers per year. A total of 57 independent images taken over 12 months were blended into a short video by ESA. If completely liquified, Thwaites would raise sea levels by 1.5 to 3 feet. 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. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, … 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. [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. They are part of an area called the Amundsen Sea Embayment . Due to this friction the glacier is considered stable in the short term. [10], In 2020, scientists discovered warm water underneath the glacier for the first time. [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. 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 … Its front end measures about 100 miles across, and its glacial basin—the thick … [25], A 5-year international collaboration to study the Thwaites Glacier was established in 2018. 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. [11] The place where the glacier was in contact with the sea had been recorded as 2 degree Celsius above the freezing temperature. Time: 11:00am UK GMT (aimed at students aged 10+) Register for Webinar In the past ten years, the tongue has continued to fracture and separate from the Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf. (Brooke Medley/NASA) 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 and Thwaites Glaciers are two major West Antarctic ice streams which do not flow into a large ice shelf. It's a giant mass of more than 192,000 square kilometers (74,000 square miles) -- an … Mapping deep channels under Thwaites Glacier. It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. They wanted to understand how possible scenarios of future sea level rise might change over time as a result of marine ice sheet instability. 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. [12] The discovery was a part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, a US-UK-based research firm. This big blowout confirmed that there's very little actual ice shelf left in the western part of Thwaites Glacier. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. [22] It was first noted in the 1930s, but finally detached from the ice tongue and broke up in the late 1980s. "[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting," said Pietro Milillo of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It seems to not only be melting on the ocean edges, but also from underneath, and warmer ocean waters are infiltrating. [28], International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). They confirm thawing of the Thwaites glacier contributes about four percent of global sea-level rise. 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. The Thwaites Glacier is one of the epicenters of this rapid deterioration. [14], Swamp-like canal areas and streams underlie the glacier. The large rift across the glacier eventually spawned Iceberg B-22 in 2002. 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? [4] The historian Reuben Gold Thwaites was his father.[5]. [9] In 2017, scientists discovered previously unknown volcanoes nearby. That is one of the most important questions in the world today. "As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.". Time: 11:00am UK GMT (aimed at students aged 10+) Watch the Video 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. 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. [8] Since the 1980s, the glacier had a net loss of over 600 billion tons of ice though 2017. That's worrying news for coastal cities. 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. 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. 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. Over the last three decades, the Thwaites glacier has lost about 600 billion tons of ice. It reveals how a 120square mile (312 sq km) chunk of ice broke off from the glacier's main body. In any map of the Antarctic ice sheet, Thwaites Glacier is bound to be a prime concern. 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. A new study led by NASA has found a giant cavity in the underside of the huge Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Thwaites currently contributes roughly 4% to global sea level rise. "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 … The Antarctic continent, Thwaites is almost as big as Great Britain, a International! In the short term his father. [ 5 ] by 65 km wide, and warmer waters... 50 and 100 kilometres ( 31 and 62 mi ) east of Mount Murphy short term rights reserved they thawing... Gold Thwaites was his father. [ 5 ] though 2017 glacier eventually spawned iceberg in! 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