Written by Atharv Balaji, a grade 5 student
Scientists have recently discovered that The Thwaites Glacier, or Doomsday Glacier, is melting more rapidly than ever before, prompting global concerns over its potential to raise sea levels.
What is the Thwaites Glacier?
The Thwaites glacier is a 1.9 lakh sq. km large and broad glacier in Antarctica. It is as big as Great Britain! Thwaites is an important glacier for Antarctica, as it works as a barrier for the ice behind it from freely flowing into the ocean. If it melts it can raise the sea level by more than half a meter. And hence its nickname Doomsday Glacier.
What have scientists found out?
Researchers have been studying the glacier for 30 years. It has already been contributing to 4% of the sea-level rise every year. Researchers have predicted that the Twaites Glacier will collapse in 200 to 900 years. But recent studies show that this could happen earlier than we think.
In their latest study, scientists at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg sent an uncrewed submarine called Ran, to study the glacier from below. They found three channels of warm water coming into the glacier, one of which was largely unidentified earlier. This is causing the glacier to melt 10x faster than before.
Why should we be aware of melting glaciers?
Glaciers contain 75% of the Earth’s freshwater. They reflect excess heat and keep the planet cool. Glaciers cover about 10% of the land out of which 90% is in Antarctica and the rest 10% in Greenland ice caps. Ice is a cover for the oceans and Earth. When glaciers melt, they cause sea levels to rise rapidly. As sea levels rise, coastal regions and the surrounding marine life are threatened. We are also in danger of losing our freshwater source.
What is the cause?
Global warming is the biggest reason for melting glaciers. We are emitting more greenhouse gases by using automobiles that run on fossil fuels. Animals emit methane which gets trapped in the atmosphere causing temperature rise. Human activities like animal rearing contribute to this. The burning of items releases CO2, which is also harmful.
While scientists are still studying the Thwaites Glacier, they now have more data on hand to determine the effects and pace of glacier melting.
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