thwaites glacier sea level rise

The questions swirling around the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet add to the considerable uncertainty policymakers and planners face when trying to prepare for sea level rise. For some communities, 2 feet of sea level rise, which would come if Thwaites Glacier melts completely, represents an existential threat. Each scenario includes only a small amount of melting from Antarctica. All Rights Reserved. “Not only that… “When we have better data, better science, then we can make more informed decisions.”. If every country met its Paris Agreement commitments, the world would warm to 2.7 degrees Celsius. Vast glaciers in West Antarctica seem to be locked in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that may push up sea levels for centuries. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an … New research suggests an army of icebergs can be unleased by just two of Antarctica’s melting glaciers, spurring a sea level rise of up to 3.4m. “There are a lot of people interested in making sure that we can do this, but I can't say for sure right now.”. The Future of Thwaites Glacier and its Contribution to Sea-level Rise Science Coordination Office Proposal (SCO) The ITGC Science Coordination Office coordinates the eight funded research projects to deliver the best possible science for the funding agencies and the public of both the US and UK. At around the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier holds enough water to raise average global sea levels up to a meter. Thwaites Glacier doomed? This means that cities and countries using IPCC data to build their own localized sea level rise projections are likewise only planning for a small amount of loss from West Antarctica, which might prove to be an underestimation. Pacific Island nations like Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives would be wiped off the map if the West Antarctic ice sheet were to collapse entirely. Credit: Courtesy of Rob Larter/ British Antarctic Survey. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is the size of Britain. Despite its massive cavity, Thwaites Glacier still contains enough ice to raise the world ocean by a little over 2 feet. The glacier sits in West Antarctica and flows into the Amundsen Sea. The city is working with communities to develop neighborhood plans focusing on solutions like raised parks along Boston Harbor that serve both as spaces for recreation and flood barriers. The models projected roughly 10.6 to 14.9 inches — 27 to 38 centimeters — of sea level rise during that same period without climate variability. Already, ice draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea accounts for about four percent of global sea-level rise. “Suddenly, it was making sense with what we were seeing out of the windows.”. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost. In the near term, these changes will mean more frequent, coastal flooding in low-lying areas, including some of Boston’s most historic neighborhoods. “It's another step in the [progressive] retreat,” Larter said. "The Thwaites Glacier has the potential to change the pace of sea level rise all by itself, by adding several tens of centimeters to sea level rise within this century," Alley said. About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. If Thwaites melts away, that much-larger ice block will add water to our oceans as well, further driving up sea level rise. If Thwaites in Antarctica, which is around the size of Florida or Great Britain, were to collapse, it could lead to an increase in sea levels of around 25 inches (65 centimetres). Global sea levels could rise as much as 10ft (3 metres) if the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica collapses. Scientists race against time to find out. Ice sheet may reach tipping point where it becomes unstoppable driver of sea level rise Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier are responsible for about 5% of global sea-level rise, according to the study. “Not only that, but that range will start to skew towards scenarios of more rapid sea level rise.”. The question then is what we choose to do about it. Already, ice draining from Thwaites accounts for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise. If the entire floating ice shelf at Thwaites fractures into icebergs, what’s left at the edge of the glacier is a giant cliff of ice whose shape makes it particularly vulnerable to runaway collapse. Antarctica’s Doomsday Glacier “Thwaites” melting fast – sea levels may rise by 6 Feet. Two Antarctic glaciers that have long kept scientists awake at night are breaking free from the restraints that have hemmed them in, increasing the threat of large-scale sea-level rise. Robel, along with scientists Helene Seroussi and Gerard Roe used mathematical analysis and computer models to make projections of sea levels in the future. Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is currently the focus of a major scientific campaign. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost. Tagged: If you’re not stupid, you don’t die of sea level rise because it’s so slow that there’s time to protect against it or abandon the land,” Levermann says. For example it is certain that there will continue to be a rise in sea level because of past changes in climate, he says. “How quickly can you feasibly collapse something like Thwaites?” Graham said. These simulations also show that there’s an important role for future expeditions to try to narrow down the possible scenarios of sea level rise from Thwaites, Robel says. Thwaites is already losing twice as much ice a year as it was in the late 1990s. This is the last in a series, Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels. The ice melt draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea already accounts for 4 … Earlier this year, a NASA-led study discovered that a giant cavity, two-thirds the area of Manhattan had developed underneath Thwaites, highlighting the unexpected accelerated melting in the region. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. Without the Thwaites … DeConto said they are still working to identify the exact tipping point that would trigger this dramatic fracturing of the West Antarctic ice sheet, but work he presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting this past winter suggests it’s somewhere between 2-3 degrees Celsius of warming. The collapse of this glacier alone would raise the sea level by about 65 centimetres (25 inches). By signing up you are agreeing to our, A London-Sized Iceberg Broke Off Antarctica. As is common for most sea-level studies, the time scale for the study was in centuries and simulations showed that the ice loss for the Thwaites Glacier started after 600 years. During the next summer thaw, scientists will watch to see if more of the ice shelf inland from the mélange starts to crumble. The study found that even if no further climate change happens in the future, more Antarctic ice sheets are likely to become unstable. Satellite images of the western portion of the Thwaites ice front on March 2, 2019, and on March 6, 2019, after a large section of what had previously been called “ice shelf” crumbled into a flotilla of icebergs. That would be devastating for low-lying coastal communities. Thwaites glacier is larger the England and could drive global sea levels up by two feet (60cm) if it were to totally collapse. Is Thwaites Glacier doomed? Coupled with the thinning of the glacier and its faster flow, “this [event] is one expression of the fact that Thwaites Glacier is putting more and more ice into the ocean.”. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. The Thwaites glacier is the size of Florida and is located in the Amundsen Sea. Already, ice draining from Thwaites accounts for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise. Scientists worry that would cause the remaining ice to melt faster. “What we didn’t realize at the time is the ice [front] was coming out to chase us out,” said Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist at the British Antarctic Survey and chief scientist on the ship. But it is a sign of the glacier’s instability. And how fast it might happen once it starts. Scientists race against time to find out. If Thwaites melted, estimates suggest sea levels globally would rise around 0.5 metres on average. And, like its cousins, Thwaites' melting has accelerated rapidly in recent years. If the glacier melts entirely, it could trigger a 10-foot rise in sea levels. Once the glacier has retreated to a certain point, the tall cliffs of ice may crumble under their own weight. Thwaites — and the ice of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — could have a dramatic impact on global sea level rise. A complete collapse of the glacier… Many low-lying coastal cities, from the US to the Netherlands to Bangladesh, are built on land partially reclaimed from the sea. Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier “Due to our past changes in climate there is a certain amount of sea level rise that will definitely occur in the future,” Alex Robel, a glaciologist and assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, tells TIME. A recent study put the price tag of protecting the US from rising seas over the next two decades at more than $400 billion. The Future of Thwaites Glacier and its Contribution to Sea-level Rise Science Coordination Office Proposal (SCO) The ITGC Science Coordination Office coordinates the eight funded research projects to deliver the best possible science for the funding agencies and the public of both the US and UK. In the US, just half that amount of sea level rise could prompt a coastal exodus that would rival the great migration. He added that there are more marine ice sheets in Antarctica that could become destabilized if warming continues. But the IPCC, too, serves up its estimates with an important caveat, stating that “the collapse of the marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet, if initiated, could cause [global mean sea level] to rise substantially above the likely range during the 21st century.”. Write to Jasmine Aguilera at jasmine.aguilera@time.com. What is still uncertain is how fast the continent is losing ice or if the instability of the Thwaites marine ice sheet is the result of climate change, but Levermann says there simply hasn’t been enough research to know for sure. The simulations confirmed what scientists like Larter have seen on field expeditions to western Antarctica and previous modeling studies of Thwaites glacier which have shown that the glacier is becoming increasingly unstable. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is the size of Britain. “There's still a debate over what [this collapse] would look like,” Graham said. But it's receding by about half a mile per year. “Is it over a century, over a thousand years, or can you do in a decade? It is up to 4,000 meters thick and is considered a key in making projections of global sea level rise. Indeed, Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest contributors to global sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Melting ice sheets in the Antarctic, particularly one of the largest and unstable glaciers in the region, could significantly accelerate global sea level rise, according to a new report. Current sea level rise is about 20cm above pre-global warming levels, and has been blamed for increased coastal flooding. Levermann says scientists will know much more in the next 20 years at the current rate of research, and adds that the world needs to prepare for significant sea level rise by the year 2100 and monitor changes to Antarctica and Greenland. Save on the cover price & free e-Gift card for Giftees! “A fact that we have to keep in our minds next to that is that our future actions can significantly change how much sea level rise will occur in the future.”, “The bigger picture is there are some wild cards in the deck here and the more we’ve learned over the last few years the more the uncertainties are increasing,” Larter, who has studied Antarctica for 15 years and has traveled to Thwaites on scientific expeditions with the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, a partnership of scientists from the U.S. and the U.K., says. https://www.flipscience.ph/nature/thwaites-glacier-sea-level As a result, the Washington Post described it this week as “the world’s most dangerous glacier”. Roughly 90% of an ice sheet typically sits below the water line. “I don't have an answer for that,” Pegan said when asked if it was even feasible to protect Boston from 11 feet of sea level rise. “Our challenge is that [sea levels are] going to keep going up,” said Julie Wormser from the Boston-area Mystic River Watershed Association. Vast glaciers in West Antarctica seem to be locked in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that may push up sea levels for centuries. The climate scientists who measured likely outcomes of glacial melting at the bottom of the world focused the study on the Thwaites glacier, an area as large as Florida in western Antarctica that is considered the most unstable in the continent. Last year, an immense cavity was found under the glacier.. Today it is losing 80 billion tonnes of ice. Robel, along with scientists Helene Seroussi and Gerard Roe used mathematical analysis and computer models to make projections of sea levels in the future. They confirm thawing of the Thwaites glacier contributes about four percent of global sea-level rise. I don't think anyone can, hand on heart, say which of those it is yet. The flow speed of Thwaites has been increasing, while inland snowfall has not changed significantly. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. The Thwaites glacier is 74,000 square miles, roughly the size of the UK. 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 Its surface speeds exceed 2 kilometres per year (1.2 miles per year) near its grounding line. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet sits atop bowl-shaped bedrock and the West Antarctic shelf, which includes Thwaites, stabilizes the larger ice shelf. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier … “The entire embayment where we’d been working for several days was littered with icebergs.”. But that isn’t the worst of it. Back in 1990s, the glacier was losing around 10 billion tonnes of ice each year. The melting of the glacier already accounts for about 4% of global sea level rise. Produced by Ian Coss, Steven Davy, David Evans, Alex Newman, Anna Pratt and Peter Thomson. Now, about a third of Boston is at risk of coastal flooding if sea levels rise between 2 and 8 feet higher than they are today, Wormser said. Enormous Antarctic glacier on brink of collapse could raise sea levels by half a metre alone, scientists warn. The United States’ National Climate Assessment estimates we’ll see 1-4 feet of sea level rise by 2100, citing the complicated dynamics of Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets as “the primary reason that projections of global sea level rise includes such a wide range of plausible future conditions.”. The Thwaites glacier is the size of Florida and is located in the Amundsen Sea. If Thwaites collapses, much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could follow it into the ocean. “Whether it leads directly to further changes or not, we just have to wait and see,” Larter said. Instead, much of the ice there is actually what scientists call a “mélange,” a slushy mix of icebergs and other floating bits of ice formed by fracturing at an ice front. Thwaites glacier is losing ice at an accelerating rate, threatening catastrophic sea-level rise Daily Coronavirus Briefing No hype, just the advice and analysis you need Days after the Nathaniel B. Palmer became the first ship to sail across the 75-mile face of West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, a piece of its floating ice shelf bigger than Manhattan crumbled off the glacier into a flotilla of icebergs. Coastal cities throughout the world are at risk if sea levels continue to rise. Since 1992, satellite observations for Antarctica have found that ice sheets are contributing to global sea level rise. Scientists studying Thwaites Glacier hope to give policymakers a better sense of just how fast sea levels might rise in coming decades, and whether it’s still possible to halt the kind of massive sea level rise it could cause, or just slow its onset. [Image source/Videonium’s Channel YouTube video] Thwaites Glacier in the Antarctic is melting and scientists predict difficult times ahead for those in coastal regions due to sea level rise. “The warmer we make the planet, the more ice we lose.”. Meltwater from the Thwaites Glacier makes up about four percent of the rise in global sea level. Livable Planet Scientists aboard noticed something had changed when the research vessel tried to navigate to a spot in front of the Florida-sized glacier and was blocked by ice-choked seas. It also states that as destabilization of glaciers in Antarctica continues, it’s increasingly likely that sea levels will rise more rapidly. 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