Antarctica's 'Doomsday glacier' rapidly melting: What study means for the world

Updated on Sep 15, 2022 03:19 PM IST

Antarctica's Thwaites glacier: Issuing a stark warning, the scientists said that the one of the largest glaciers- Antarctica's Thwaites- is barely holding on and its disintegration must be paid heed to.

Antarctica's Thwaites glacier: Antarctica's Thwaites glacier melting could severely raise global sea levels.(Reuters)
Antarctica's Thwaites glacier: Antarctica's Thwaites glacier melting could severely raise global sea levels.(Reuters)

Antarctica's Thwaites glacier is melting at a faster rate than previously expected, scientists said in a new study, published in Nature Geoscience. The melting, which the scientists said had occurred over the course of the last six months, resulted in the retreat of the Thwaites Glacier by almost 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometres) per year. This marks a melting event twice the expected rate.

Issuing a stark warning, the scientists said that the one of the largest glaciers- Antarctica's Thwaites- is barely holding on and its disintegration must be paid heed to.

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Antarctica's Thwaites glacier is melting "twice the rate observed by satellite at the fastest retreating part of the grounding zone between 2011 and 2019," scientists said.

Also called the "doomsday glacier", Antarctica's Thwaites glacier's collapse could be a major threat to the global sea level, raising it by three to ten feet. Melting of the glacier could cause severe flooding in low-lying areas, and submerge coastal regions, scientists had cautioned in 2020.

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Antarctica's Thwaites glacier has been one of the worst hit glaciers by climate change and global warming. International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, in an estimate released in 2020, had said that if the "doomsday glacier" dissolves fully, it will lead to four per cent of climate change-caused sea-level rise. If, and when the glacier collapses, the effects could be felt as far as New York, scientists had warned.

"Our results suggest that pulses of very rapid retreat have occurred at Thwaites Glacier in the last two centuries, and possibly as recently as the mid-20th Century,” marine geophysicist Alastair Graham, the lead author of the paper said.

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