The Thwaites Glacier, the largest outflow channel of the vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet, now has a very big subterranean hole.
The Thwaites Glacier from West Antarctica has about 182,000 square km. It's sufficiently enormous to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and a large portion of that ice melted in the course of the most recent three years. Its ice alone can raise sea levels by 2 feet, but it also holds other neighboring glaciers in place, so losing it could also mean an additional 8 feet if all the ice would melt.
Scientists thought there might be some gaps between Thwaites Glacier and the bedrock below it, where ocean water could flow in and melt the icy glacier above it.
Worse, Thwaites Glacier acts as a kind of "door stop", preventing adjoining glaciers from sliding towards the sea.
But they were shocked to find the hole and then "surprised" to see its "size and explosive growth rate".
"Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail".
The cavity was found using ice-penetrating radar in NASA's Operation IceBridge, an airborne campaign that began in 2010.
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Nasa has made a series of shocking discoveries about the state of the glacier. According to current readings, sections of the ice shelf are retreating by as much as 800 meters (2,625 ft) every year.
Thwaites Glacier is about the size of Florida and now responsible for roughly 4 percent of global sea rise.
About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is now responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. Scientists say the glacier is responsible for about four percent of global sea level rise. The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is a joint project between the U.S. National Science Foundation and the British National Environmental Research Council with the aim of getting a better understanding of the glacier and how it will respond to climate change in the future.
Millilo said, "For Thwaites, We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat". That exposes more of a glacier's underside to sea water, increasing the likelihood its melt rate will accelerate.
Despite this high rate of retreat, melt rates are still higher on the western side, where the void is located.
The gaping mouth is located at the base of the Thwaites Glaciers, which is considered by many to be one of the most unsafe in the world due to its massive size.
"The researchers on the current study hope that these new results will help inform that team's work", the news portal continued.