The Climate Emergency Thwaites for No One

[The massive ice shelf FOX calls the “Doomsday glacier” is floating on warm water]

Unusually warm water beneath its grounding zone (grounding line) is accelerating the melting of a key Antarctic glacier (74,000 sq. mi). New research on the Thwaites Glacier (lately dubbed the Doomsday Glacier by no less than FOX News) on the West Antarctica Ice Sheet shows the water underneath the floating ice shelf to be about closer to 36F.  The glacier is melting from below.

The Thwaites mass is an Ice Shelf, a hybrid formation that rests on bedrock on one end while floating on the other. The grounding line of these ice shelves – where the glacier meets land – anchors the ice, and also serves to hold back the much larger mass of land ice behind it. The existence of warm waters beneath the grounding line is more bad news for the stability of the Antarctic continent and the growing threat of rising sea levels.

The recent measurements were taken by a team from  the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, which drilled a bore hole half a mile through the ice at the grounding line and lowered instruments into the water.  The news follows last year’s discovery of a mammoth cavity beneath the glacier.

“The fact that such warm water was just now recorded by our team along a section of Thwaites grounding zone, where we have known the glacier is melting, suggests that it may be undergoing an unstoppable retreat that has huge implications for global sea level rise,” said David Holland, director of NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Global Sea Level Change in the official news release.

The Thwaites is about the size of Florida. If all of its ice flows into the ocean, it will raise sea levels an additional 2 feet on its own.

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