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This ‘doomsday’ glacier is more vulnerable than scientists once thought

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Washington Post or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, known as the "doomsday glacier," is more exposed to warm ocean water than previously thought
• Satellite data shows warm seawater penetrates up to 6 kilometers beneath the glacier
• This discovery could significantly increase the glacier's melting area

🔭 The context: Thwaites Glacier, the world’s widest, experiences daily tidal movements that lift it, allowing seawater to infiltrate further underneath.
• This glacier is anchored to the ocean floor by two ridges, but tides help water bypass one of them
• Researchers from UC Irvine, NASA, and other institutions conducted this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The melting of Thwaites Glacier could raise global sea levels by up to two feet
• This process threatens the West Antarctic ice sheet, potentially triggering significant and rapid sea level rise
• The glacier's instability is exacerbated by warm seawater, posing a dire risk to coastal communities worldwide

⏭️ What's next: Scientists need to understand the rate of melting caused by water intrusion to improve predictive models
• Detailed seafloor mapping is essential to gauge the glacier's future behavior
• Continued monitoring and advanced simulations will be critical in forecasting the glacier's impact on global sea levels

💬 One quote: “The water is able to penetrate beneath the ice over much longer distances than we thought” (Eric Rignot, lead scientist from UC Irvine and NASA)

📈 One stat: Thwaites Glacier is 80 miles wide where it touches the ocean, compared to Petermann Glacier's 10 miles

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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