Under the Antarctic ice was found a vast emptiness

Under the Antarctic ice was found a vast emptiness

A glacier described as the "world's most dangerous" is showing worrying signs of collapse, after scientists found an 1,000ft tall cavity growing beneath the ice.

An enormous cavity has been discovered at the base of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. The cavity is big enough to contain 14 billion tons of ice, and most of it melted in the last three years.

The glacier holds "enough ice to raise the world ocean level a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters)", said the team. West Antarctica, home to some of the fastest-flowing and fastest-melting glaciers, accounts for the bulk of the loss calculated in the new work.

But they were shocked to find the hole and then "surprised" to see its "size and explosive growth rate".

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The pocket is a sign of "rapid decay" and just one of "several disturbing discoveries" made recently regarding the glacier, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a news release Wednesday.

Now, thanks to NASA's Operation IceBridge, we learned that a large cavity has formed beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. All the data was then processed using a technique called radar interferometry to show how the ground below the surface is moving between images. Hopefully, the upcoming global collaboration will help researchers piece together the different systems at work under and around the glacier, the researchers said. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers' undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change. It is approximately the size of Florida and is responsible for 4 percent of all global sea level rise. A radar was used to peer through the ice to see to the bottom of the glacier.

In addition, at the moment, the glacier plays the role of a "backup" for the neighboring ice massifs.

"We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat", Millilo said. This data also shed some light on another concern about the glacier's grounding line, the point at which the glacier starts to depart from land and float on the sea. The U.S. National Science Foundation and British National Environmental Research Council are mounting a five-year field project to answer the most critical questions about its processes and features. The disappearance of the ice mass would cause sea levels to rise by about two feet as well as making surrounding glaciers more likely to melt rapidly-which could cause an eight foot rise. In turn, this makes the glacier even more susceptible to melting.

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