Warming seas are carving into glacier that could trigger major sea level rise

By | February 15, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

Rapidly warming oceans are cutting into the underside of the Earth’s widest glacier, startling new data and images show, leaving the ice more prone to fracturing and ultimately heightening the risk for major sea level rise.

Using an underwater robot at Thwaites Glacier, researchers have determined that warm water is getting channeled into crevasses in what the researchers called “terraces” — essentially, upside-down trenches — and carving out gaps under the ice. As the ice then flows toward the sea, these channels enlarge and become spots where the floating ice shelf can break apart and produce huge icebergs. If the remaining shelf is further undermined, Thwaites Glacier will flow into the ocean faster and boost global sea levels on a large scale.

The results from overlapping teams of more than two dozen scientists, published Wednesday in two papers in the journal Nature, reveal the extent to which human-caused warming could destabilize glaciers in West Antarctica that could ultimately raise global sea level by 10 feet if they disintegrate over the coming centuries. [Continue reading…]

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