Photo: NASA / Wikimedia
An international group of scientists from USA, Germany and France recorded the acceleration of the melting of the Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica, where there are the most rapid changes in ice cover. According to estimates, only this one glacier is able to increase the sea level around the world. Article researchers published in the journal Science Advances.
The Thwaites glacier meets the Bay, ban island, the Amundsen sea. His speed at the line of the following (to the border between the ground and the floating part of the glacier) is two kilometers per year, making it one of the fastest glaciers. Scientists see it as the weakest part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which covers an area of about two million square kilometers and occupies a volume of 25.4 million cubic kilometers.
Currently, the Thwaites glacier, two other glaciers of West Antarctica — pan island glacier and the Smith — reduced in size due to the fact that the loss of ice exceeds its supply from snowfall. According to preliminary estimates, the difference between these two processes is about 60 percent. The contribution of the three glaciers to increase global sea level is at 0.24 mm per year, and a complete collapse of shield, which will occur after 200-1000 years, would raise the shoreline of 3.3 meters. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that the rate of glacier melting and its getting stronger with each year due to the increase in average sea temperatures caused by global warming.
In the new work, scientists analyzed new data from satellite observation system COSMO-SkyMed. Their combined with a digital elevation model for 2010-2017, created using remote sensing satellite TanDEM-X.
It turned out that separate areas of the glacier, lying on the bottom, in the years 2014-2017 was melting at a rate of 200 meters per year. This is a record among the ice shelves of Antarctica. The width of the zone where the migration lines of the following, in recent years has reached 2.5 km in comparison with 1996, when the width reached 0.5 miles.
The retreat lines of the following leads to the emergence of large cavities beneath the glacier, where seeps warm sea water and reinforces the melting process. Scientists have confirmed the emergence of one such underwater “caves” four kilometers wide and 350 meters high, where once there were 14 billion tons of ice. This creates a complex pattern of ice loss in some parts of the glaciers is happening faster than predicted by theoretical models.
Video, photo All from Russia.