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'Doomsday glacier' close to collapse - could raise sea level



As the climate warms, it threatens the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists mapped the glacier’s historical retreat to learn about the glacier’s past and what it is likely to do in the future, writes CNN.

Can quickly withdraw

The research shows that Thwaites can retreat quickly, once the glacier breaks free from a seafloor ridge that helps hold it in place.

“Thwaites is really hanging on and we should expect to see big changes in the future – even from one year to the next,” says Robert Larter , one of the study’s co-authors.

Melts from below

Scientists have worried about the glacier for decades because warm ocean currents can melt the glacier from below, which research from 2020 shows is indeed happening. Thwaites, located in West Antarctica, is one of the widest on Earth and is larger than the state of Florida.

The latest research has mapped a huge area and shows that the glacier may be retreating at a much faster rate than previously thought.

The lead author of the study, Alastair Graham , states that the research “truly was a once-in-a-lifetime mission”.

Wants to return to Antarctica

The researchers want to return to Antarctica soon to collect samples from the seabed so they can continue to determine when the previous rapid retreats of the glacier occurred. It will then help to predict future changes to the “doomsday glacier”.


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