New research shows that a Florida-sized block of ice in Western Antarctica called the Thwaites Glacier is sitting on top of large channels that may allow warm ocean water to melt it from the bottom, Carolyn Gramling reports for Science News.
Two new studies, both published in the journal Cryosphere, provide a detailed map of the glacier’s two ice shelf regions and the ocean floor in front of and underneath them. As one of the largest glaciers in Antarctica, the Thwaites Glacier is the subject of close study—if the entire glacier melted, it would cause ocean levels to rise by 25 inches. When the new maps are incorporated into models of Thwaites’ melting, that will show whether the deep trenches might cause the glacier to collapse sooner than previously predicted.
“Understanding that process and how these cavities evolve will be key to understanding how Thwaites and western Antarctica will