The size of the state of Florida, the Thwaites glacier is considered the most dangerous in the world, since its incidence in the rise of sea level is very high. Now a NASA investigation has warned that this mass of ice It's disintegrating.
According to the research, a cavity of 40 square kilometers and 300 meters in height which grows at the bottom of the block, located in western Antarctica, which would strengthen this theory.
The scientists highlighted the need to look closely at the bottom of the Antarctic glaciers, as this way can calculate how quickly the global sea level will rise, as a response to global warming.
However, NASA experts only expected to find under the Thwaites some gaps between the ice and the bottom, where ocean water can flow and melt. Upon discovering this new hole, they were surprised and fired all the alarms.
This cavity is large enough to contain up to 14,000 million tons of ice: a lot of this melted in the last three years.
This can be discovered thanks to an ice penetration radar, which were used in NASA's IceBridge Operation. The campaign began in 2010 and studies the connections between the polar regions and the global climate. These very high resolution data can be processed by a technique called radar interferometry, which reveals how the surface of the ground has moved between the images.
The interest in Thwaites is not recent, but it is one of the great mysteries of Antarctica. The United States National Science Foundation and the UK's National Environmental Research Council are setting up a five-year field project to answer the most critical questions about their processes and characteristics.
This glacier is responsible for approximately 4% of sea level rise: can raise the world ocean slightly more than two centimeters. In turn, it maintains the neighboring glaciers that would raise the level to 2.4 centimeters if all the ice were lost.