4. Thwaites is a 'wildcard' for sea levels The glacier sits in West Antarctica and flows into the Amundsen Sea. The researchers noted with concern, that at the baseline of the glacier, the temperature of the water is already more than two degrees above freezing point. • Log In, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0510-8#Sec7, Scambos et al. Visiting the most vulnerable place on Earth: the 'doomsday glacier', International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, Antarctica melting: Climate change and the journey to the 'doomsday glacier', "Thwaites Glacier: Antarctica, name, geographic coordinates, description, map", "Time 'Thwaites' for no one: the story behind Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica", "The Race to Understand Antarctica's Most Terrifying Glacier", "Scientists Predict Faster Retreat for Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier - The Earth Institute - Columbia University", "This Antarctic glacier is the biggest threat for rising sea levels. (Source: Bedmachine https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0510-8#Sec7), 8. Thwaites Glacier, also known as the "doomsday glacier", is reported to be melting quicker than previously thought - scientists are now trying to find out why. Image Information. “The fact that Thwaites is now doing this slab capsize style of calving, that means that it is breaking off right at the point where the glacier is hitting the ocean,” said Bartholomaus. Dissecting a Glacier. ), 7. In an event similar to the massive one day Greenland melt last year, Eagle Island on the Antarctic peninsula lost about 20% of its ice cover in the space of a nine day heat wave in mid-February. ), 13. The Thwaites glacier is slightly smaller than the total size of the UK, approximately the same size as the state of Washington, and is located in the Amundsen Sea.. Thwaites Glacier and the surrounding coastal region alone could raise sea levels by half a meter (1.6 feet) within 100 years. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, but they receive 7% of Antarctica’s snowfall 1. If Thwaites Glacier continues to accelerate, retreat, and widen at rates consistent with recent changes, it could contribute several cm to sea-level rise by the end of the century. The glacier terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000 m below sea level. The capsize calving at Thwaites on February 8th 2014 sent low frequency waves traveling—and shaking—through the ice and land underneath for hundreds of miles. The paper notes that Thwaites glacier covers 74,000 sq miles (192,000 sq km), and is particularly susceptible to climate change. “Not only that… Thwaites Glacier was named after Fredrik T. Thwaites (1883–1961), a glacial geologist, geomorphologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Considerable uncertainty remains in projections of future ice loss from West Antarctica. Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centred between 50 and 100 km (31 and 62 mi) east of Mount Murphy on the north coast of West Antarctica. 20. Thwaites Glacier (Landsat) Access Data. The Thwaites Iceberg Tongue (74°0′S 108°30′W / 74.000°S 108.500°W / -74.000; -108.500) was a large iceberg tongue which was aground in the Amundsen Sea, about 32 km northeast of Bear Peninsula. [23][24], In January 2019, NASA discovered an underwater cavity underneath the glacier, with an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan. [22] It was first noted in the 1930s, but finally detached from the ice tongue and broke up in the late 1980s. Field Activities. Environment. Snows fall on land and these compact into ice that then flows out to sea. Here, warm water is pushed up onto the continental shelf, where it flows along the bottom until it reaches the floating ice shelf in front of Thwaites Glacier. Over 100 scientists and support staff are involved in the ITGC in the 2019-2020 research season. Thwaites Glacier . The amount of ice loss has doubled over the last 30 years by Thwaites and its neighbouring glaciers. Since 2000, the glacier has had a net loss of more than 1000 billion tons of ice. Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica are enormous in size and often referred to as the most dangerous glacier on Earth. It was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names[3] in 1967 after Fredrik T. Thwaites (1883–1961), a glacial geologist, geomorphologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica, is of particular concern to scientists. Warming of the atmosphere and ocean and their interaction with the glacier are driving the change. Letters; Paolo et al., 2015 Science; Scambos et al. That is one of the most important questions in the world today. “The fact that Thwaites is now doing this slab capsize style of calving, that means that it is breaking off right at the point where the glacier is hitting the ocean,” said Bartholomaus. Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x10 3 km 2). The Thwaites Glacier Tongue, or Thwaites Ice Tongue (75°0′S 106°50′W / 75.000°S 106.833°W / -75.000; -106.833), is about 50 km wide and has progressively shortened due to ice calving, based on the observational record. The Thwaites glacier alone contains enough ice to increase global sea levels by about 50cm. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest and most unstable ice streams in Antarctica. The Thwaites Glacier is the largest, most menacing source of rising sea levels all over the world, and it is melting at an alarming rate. Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier. Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica, is of particular concern to scientists. Scientists may just have identified Thwaites Glacier's Achilles heel. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. The important takeaway here is that Thwaites will melt to a point that the glacier will collapse. Antarctica's colossal Thwaites Glacier is melting fast -- and scientists may have discovered why. (Source: https://thwaitesglacier.org/). 2017, Global & Planetary Change, It is larger than England, Wales and Northern Ireland put together (England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a combined area of 164,000 km, And roughly the size of the island of Britain (Great Britain is 209,000 km, It is larger than US state of Florida (Florida covers an area of 170,000 km. Here, warm water is pushed up onto the continental shelf, where it flows along the bottom until it reaches the floating ice shelf in front of Thwaites Glacier. It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. Thwaites Glacier, covering 192,000 square kilometers (74,000 square miles)—an area the size of Great Britain—is particularly susceptible to climate and ocean changes. Thwaites Glacier is roughly equidistant between the UK’s Rothera Research Station and the US McMurdo Research Station. UK and US scientists are collaborating to investigate one of the most unstable glaciers in Antarctica, the Thwaites Glacier, roughly the same size as Florida or … Thwaites Glacier is part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The race is on to understand it", "In Antarctica, Two Crucial Glaciers Accelerate Toward the Sea", "Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet", "Rising Seas: Record Warmth Found at 'Doomsday Glacier' Water Line - ExtremeTech", "Surprisingly warm water found on underside of Antarctica's 'Doomsday Glacier, "Scientists discover warm water beneath 'Doomsday Glacier' in Antarctica", "Scientists Image Vast Subglacial Water System Underpinning West Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier", "Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say", "Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth", "Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet after local destabilization of the Amundsen Basin", "Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011", "Vintage film reveals Antarctic glacier melting", "Gigantic Cavity in Antarctica Glacier Is a Product of Rapid Melting, Study Finds", "Is Thwaites Glacier doomed? [7] However, the glacier has been considered to be the biggest threat on relevant time scales, for rising seas, current studies aim to better quantify retreat and possible impacts. Snows fall inland and these compact into ice that then flows out to sea. [9] In 2017, scientists discovered previously unknown volcanoes nearby. Since the 1990s, satellites have shown accelerating ice loss driven by ocean change in five neighbouring glacier catchments, including Thwaites Glacier, that drain more than one third of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The Thwaites glacier was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (ACAN) after Thwaites, who was a glacial geologist, a geomorphologist and a … MOST READ IN SCIENCE. It was named by the Ad… Thwaites Glacier – The Formula For Doomsday. Thwaites Glacier today is rapidly losing mass in response to changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Assuming the last 4 years lost ice at the same rate gives a total of 1068 Gt.). Reconnaissance flight over the Thwaites Glacier The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica could significantly affect global sea levels. ITGC consists of eight science projects, six are field-work oriented, and two are focused on modeling of glacier processes and its recent and future evolution. Velocity data were derived from the Landsat scenes listed below. Rapid Ice Melt on Eagle Island and Warm Rivers Converge Beneath the Thwaites Shelf. There's a size requirement. Roughly 90% of an ice sheet typically sits below the water line. Image Information. Thwaites glacier is between 800 and 1200 metres deep at its grounding line (Source: Bedmap2, Fretwell et al., 2013 The Cryosphere; BAS 40-hour Flightlines, 2019 and 2020). [6] Along with the Pine Island Glacier, it has been described as part of the "weak underbelly" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, due to its apparent vulnerability to significant retreat. Thwaites Glacier Facts Comments News Videos Thwaites Glacier , sometimes referred to as the Doomsday Glacier , is an unusually broad and vast Antarctic glacier flowing into the Pine Island Bay, part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land. Environment ‘Doomsday glacier’ melting due to warm water channels, scientists say. The area of WAIS is approximately 3,435,000 km2. 21. Its surface speeds exceed 2 kilometres per year (1.2 miles per year) near its grounding line. Winberry, J. P., A. D. Huerta, S. Anandakrishnan, R. Aster, A. Nyblade, and D. A. Wiens (2020), Glacial Earthquakes and Precursory Seismicity Associated with Thwaites‐Glacier Calving, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2019gl086178. From 1992 to 2011, the centre of the Thwaites grounding line retreated by nearly 14 kilometres (nine miles). ), 10. (Source: Scambos et al. 18. [4] The historian Reuben Gold Thwaites was his father.[5]. To view image data select Velocity Map or Data Set Map, or use the links on the overview image. The upstream swamp canals feed streams with dry areas between the streams which retard flow of the glacier. Thwaites glacier will at some point reach what’s known as a “threshold system.” At this point, the glacier collapses. This hypothesis is based on both theoretical studies of the stability of marine ice sheets and observations of large changes on these two glaciers. The collapse of this glacier alone would raise the sea level by about 65 centimetres (25 inches). The Thwaites Glacier might one day disappear, but it doesn't spell the end for humanity. Thwaites is the widest glacier on Earth, at ~120 km (~80 miles) wide. The cavity formed mostly in the previous three years and is nearly a thousand feet tall, likely speeding up the glacier's decay. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is located in one of the most remote places on earth and just so happens to be about the size of the State of Florida. Ice surface speeds exceed 2 km annually (1.2 miles annually) near its grounding line. The glacier itself was mapped more thoroughly in 1959-66. [28], International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). Being one of the most difficult places in the world to reach the scientific collaboration planned for years to transport many tonnes of equipment to the glaciers front. Thwaites, which is comparable in size to Britain, is what's termed a marine-terminating glacier. This discovery prompted an extensive airborne campaign in 2004 by the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, to be followed by subsequent airborne campaigns under NASA's IceBridge Campaign in 2009–2018.
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