Ground Report | New Delhi: World’s widest glacier; The Thwaites glacier, the widest in the world at almost 120 kilometers, could collapse in five years, the American journal Science reported today, citing scientists from the American Geophysical Union.
World’s widest glacier
Located in West Antarctica, it represents the greatest international threat because if everything fell into the ocean, it would raise sea level before 2100 by 65 centimeters, or more than two feet, it was revealed during the autumn meeting of the organization.
In just over three decades, the eastern third of Thwaites was bolstered by a floating platform, but data collected over the past two years suggests the corset won’t last much longer, the researchers said.
Warm ocean waters are inexorably devouring the ice from below, and right now its melting is responsible for about four percent of the global rise in the seafloor, they added.
However, a large part of the platform is about to lose its tenuous control and that will dramatically accelerate the slide, they warned.
This deadly punch-punch-melting hook combination from below breaks the ice and loses its grip, pushing the Thwaites into imminent collapse, said Erin Pettit, a glaciologist from Oregon.
Satellite images showed that over the past 30 years, the glacier’s flow through the land and into the sea nearly doubled.
Since 2018, scholars from the United States and the United Kingdom have been running a joint five-year project to intensively assess the Thwaites and try to anticipate its imminent future by planting instruments above, in, below, and offshore.
“There will probably be a dramatic change to the glacier front in less than a decade,” Sambos said. “It has doubled its exit velocity in the last 30 years, and the entire glacier contains enough water to raise the sea level by more than 2 feet. And it could lead to an even greater rise in sea level, up to 10 feet. , if it shrinks the surrounding glaciers with it.”
Scambos said the glacier could survive on its own, but it will be important “to have a clearer idea of how the glacier will behave” within the next 100 years. But all signs point to the glacier not long-surviving.
“The satellite imagery that we’ve been tracking is essentially going to bypass that fixed point and start to fracture and fall apart,” Pettit said. “It’s a bit unsettling.”
Melting the ice
The mainland of the Thwaites Glacier is also already under threat. An underwater robot’s examination of its anchorage area, where the ice is attached to the bedrock, showed that the ocean water there is relatively warm and salty, melting the ice from its base. . Worse, the floating ice shelf rises and falls with the tide, pumping water to the glacier’s anchorage area.
The team also modeled what would happen if the Thwaites Glacier retreated further inland. Very high ice cliffs could form along the waterfront, likely to break into the sea and cause the glacier to retreat very quickly and ultimately collapse. Depending on the team, this could happen in a matter of decades or centuries.
“If Thwaites were to collapse, it would take most of the West Antarctic ice with it,” Scambos explains. “So getting a clearer picture of how the glacier will perform over the next 100 years is essential.”