After the breakup of Larsen C, scientists have concentrated their work on the Thwaites, one of the hardest places to reach on Earth, but is about to become better known than ever.
In 2010, NASA launched the IceBridge operation, a campaign to study the connections between the polar regions and the global climate and to measure the effects of climate change. Until then, the Thwaite Glacier was one of the hardest places to reach on Earth, but with the recently published report from the American Space Agency, it is about to become more familiar than ever.
The document, published on Wednesday 30 January in the Science Advances magazine, shows that researchers look with extreme attention at the gigantic cavity – with a two-thirds size of Manhattan and about 300 meters high – growing at the bottom of the Thwaites in the western zone of West Antarctica.
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The researchers' conclusions suggest that it is necessary to better observe the lower part of the Antarctic glaciers to calculate how rapidly global sea levels will rise as a result of climate change.
In the beginning, the scientific team expected to find holes at the bottom of the Thwaites, between ice and rocks, allowing the circulation of ocean water to melt from below.
However, the size and explosive growth rate of the new hole surprised them because they are large enough to contain 14 billion tons of ice. Especially because most of that ice melted in the last three years.
In this connection, the academic from the University of California, Irvine, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said. Eric Rignot, that "for years we suspect Thwaites was not well attached to the underlying rock and Now, thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the details."
The investigator added that the detected cavity was revealed by an ice penetration radar in Operation IceBridge, in addition to data obtained from a constellation of synthetic aperture radars from Italian and German spacecraft.
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"This data from very high resolution they can be processed using a technique called radar interferometry to reveal how the surface of the ground beneath them has shifted between the images, "he said.
It is worth noting that the Thwaites glacier is currently responsible for about 4 percent of the sea level rise worldwide and that if a complete break occurs and all the ice is lost, this level would rise between 65 and 80 centimeters.
Because of the real risks that exist, that is it National Foundation of the United States and the National Council for Environmental Research in the United Kingdom decided to start a five-year field project to measure the long-term ice loss.
The problem is that there is currently no way to monitor Antarctic glaciers from the ground level, so they have to use data from antenna or satellite instruments to view the characteristics that change when a glacier melts.
Another piece of information that scientists keep in mind is related to the connection with the bottom of a glacier, which is nothing more than the place at the edge of the continent where it rises from its bed and begins to float in the sea water. .
Many Antarctic glaciers stretch for miles From its landlines, floating across the open ocean and when this happens, the land line retreats inwards, revealing more of the bottom of a glacier in seawater, increasing the likelihood of the Merger rate being accelerated.