A massive cavity two-thirds the size of Manhattan has been discovered growing in an Antarctic glacier, signaling rapid ice decay that has shocked scientists.
A massive hole two-thirds the size of Manhattan was just discovered in what is dubbed as the "most unsafe glacier in the world". If the entire glacier melted, the resulting water could raise world ocean levels by more than 2 feet (65 centimeters), the researchers said.
Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at the bottom of the glacier where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. West Antarctica, home to some of the fastest-flowing and fastest-melting glaciers, accounts for the bulk of the loss calculated in the new work.
"We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it", study author Rignot said in a NASA statement.More news: Myths about the HPV vaccine continue to put people's lives at risk
"Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail". This exceptionally high-goals information can be handled by a strategy called radar interferometry to uncover how the ground surface beneath has moved between pictures.
By observing the undersides of Antarctic glaciers, researchers hope to calculate how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.
Antarctica has been constantly losing ice in the last decades as global warming became more pronounced.
It is up to 4000 metres and is considered a key in making projections of global sea level rise.More news: TMZ: 'Young and the Restless' star Kristoff St. John dies
The void was found by ice-penetrating radar and a series of satellites, all of which are attempting to understand what's happening to Antarctica as the world warms. The Thwaites Glacier is not the easiest place on Earth to reach. This has made the melt rate on this part of the glacier unsettlingly high, the researchers said. The U.S. National Science Foundation and the British National Environmental Research Council are mounting a five-year field task to answer the most basic inquiries concerning its procedures and highlights. "We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat". This information is extremely useful to scientists because how quickly a glacier melts depends a great deal on what's going on near that bedrock. It could also lead to melting in neighboring glaciers that could add another 8 feet to sea levels if they completely melted, JPL said.
From 1992 to 2011, the centre of the Thwaites grounding line retreated by almost 14 kilometres.
While Thwaites is certainly a hard place to reach, a five-year expedition by the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration to study the glacier will begin this summer.More news: Cavs Looking to Acquire Another 1st-Round Pick Before Trade Deadline