As explosives, a robot, and a sled reveal Dooms Day glacier

As explosives a robot and a sled reveal Dooms Day

But the news from Icefin is not very good. Warm enough waters to melt glaciers go around the Thwaites landing line - the exact spot where ice meets land - and this line has gone back over a mile since 2011. Yes which means that more seawater is now in contact with the base of the glacier, which means more melting. The ice, says Washam, is "the most unsettling part of all this - these really cool features of a bushy, undulating shrub near the base line." These features are hot spots of melting.

If the Thwaites' bottom side was flat, the fresh water that melted from the ice would accumulate beneath it like a roof, covering it from being further melted by warmer seawater. "It essentially fights the movement of ocean heat into the ice," says Washam. call to ice.

This publication provides geologists with a critical view of how glaciers may be eroding everywhere - and is a feature they have not yet described in modeling. “There is no other kind of way to melt these ice surfaces in ice models,” Washam says. "What this shows is that this is something that needs to be considered if we are to plan more clearly what Antarctica's contribution to sea level rise is."

Lizzy Clyne, a geologist and geologist at Lewis and Clark College, and another conference presenter, have found more trouble at the ground - using explosives, which teams go to -into a 20-foot-deep hole in the ice. ("It's a bit like a fireworks display," Clyne says. "It would hurt you if it blew up in your hand, but it's not like a giant bomb.") as the energy of the explosion kicks off what is under the ice. Using that data, Clyne can tell if it's water or hard ground. It acts as Pettit's intrusive radar, and of course Clyne marries the seismic data with radar data as well.

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View of Icefin below the Thwaites glacier

Video: Peter Washam

The data, which Clyne has been collecting since 2022, shows that as part of the Thwaites ice shelf floats on the sea, it swells when the tide recedes and out. As it rises, warmer water slips through the ground and under the ice sheet that lies on the ground, driving even more melting. It is another critical phenomenon that is not represented in glacial melting modeling. “There is this kind of activity where you could pull that level or two above the seawater a little further inland than we initially thought,” Clyne said. “It may be like a few centimeters of water, a thin layer running further inland. But that's what it takes to melt ice. ”

Now that scientists are putting together these movements - the fractures in the ice shelf, the complexity of the glacier 's downside, and the pumping of the tide - they have come to lands at a gloomy assessment of the Doomsday Glacier: It rots in more ways than they do. previously understood. If it melts completely and takes glaciers around it, sea levels would rise by a total of 10 feet. "In my opinion," said Clyne, "if we are to raise sea levels very rapidly over the next few decades, it cannot happen unless the Thwaites contribute much."

By dragging radar on sleds, piloting torpedo robots, and launching explosives, scientists are building a clearer picture of the most important glacier on Earth. "I do not have the ability to control sea level rise, and I cannot fix global warming alone," said Clyne. "But what we can do is explore and understand what is happening, what is going to happen, and how we can mitigate it as much as possible."

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