Antarctica’s so-called “doomsday glacier”, nicknamed because of its high risk of collapse and threat to global sea level, has the potential to rapidly retreat in the coming years, scientists say, amplifying concerns over the extreme sea level rise that would accompany its potential demise. The Thwaites Glacier, capable of raising sea level by several feet, is eroding along its underwater base as the planet warms.
The Thwaites Glacier, located in West Antarctica, is one of the widest on Earth and is larger than the state of Florida. But it’s just a faction of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which holds enough ice to raise sea level by up to 16 feet, according to NASA. As the climate crisis has accelerated, this region has been closely monitored because of its rapid melting and its capacity for widespread coastal destruction.
The Thwaites Glacier itself has concerned scientists for decades. As early as 1973, researchers questioned whether it was at high risk of collapse. Nearly a decade later, they found that, because the glacier is grounded to a seabed, rather than to dry land, warm ocean currents could melt the glacier from underneath, causing it to destabilize from below.
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