A massive hole two-thirds the size of Manhattan was just discovered in what is dubbed as the "most dangerous glacier in the world.” It is currently responsible for 4 percent of global sea level rise and possibly even more.
Hole In Antarctic Glacier
Using NASA’s ice-penetrating radar, scientists discovered that the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica actually has a hole that is almost 300 meters (1,000 feet) tall and two-thirds the area of Manhattan. While scientists were expecting some gaps between bedrock and ice where ocean water could come in and melt the ice, they did not expect it to be big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice. Even more disturbing, they found that most of the ice melted just within the last three years.
Scientists say that this is a very important find because the bigger the hole is, the more heat and water can get under the glacier, thereby melting it faster. As such, the scientists find the need to make detailed observations of the undersides of Antarctic’s glaciers to see how quickly global sea levels will rise in relation to climate change-related ice melt.
Thwaites Glacier is actually one of the most difficult places to reach on the planet. It is roughly the size of Florida and is so far responsible for 4 percent of the global sea level rise. Its ice alone can raise sea levels by 2 feet, but it also holds other neighboring glaciers in place, so losing it could also mean an additional 8 feet if all the ice would melt.
Since 1992, it has been slowly becoming unstuck from the bedrock at a rate of 0.4 miles to 0.5 miles a year, and the melt rate is considered extremely high. In the case of the recently discovered cavity, it was found on the western side under the main trunk of the glacier.