The Thwaites glacier is the size of Florida and is located in the Amundsen Sea. (Source: Geographic Names of the Antarctic, US Board on Geographic Names, 1980.). Your email address will not be published. Today it is losing 80 billion tonnes of ice. 1).. Over the past 30 years, this glacier has undergone dramatic changes. Text Size. • Log In, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0510-8#Sec7, Scambos et al. Thwaites, he said, was a 120km-wide “monster glacier” that is continuing its retreat with huge future implications, because it could potentially add 0.6 metres to rising seas. Scambos et al. The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica could significantly affect global sea levels. Credit: ITGC website. Res. The Thwaites Glacier Tongue, or Thwaites Ice Tongue (75°0′S 106°50′W / 75.000°S 106.833°W ), is about 50 km wide and has progressively shortened due to ice calving, based on the observational record. Currently, Thwaites' ice loss contributes approximately 4% to the annual rise in global sea-levels, with the potential to add 65cm in total should the whole glacier collapse. Thus, it is important to invest scientific effort in trying to better understand the present and future behavior of Thwaites Glacier. Even now, ice draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea accounts for about 4% of global sea-level rise. Its ice flow has accelerated by about 50-100 m per year since 2009. 14 times the size of Great Britain, about the size of India, nearly twice the area of Alaska, or more than 100 times the area of Belgium. The Thwaites glacier is slightly smaller than the total size of the UK, approximately the same size as the state of Washington, and is located in the Amundsen Sea.. It already drains an area roughly the size of Britain or the US state of Florida, accounting for around 4% of global sea-level rise - an amount that has doubled since the mid-1990s. Ice front of Thwaites Glacier, January 2020. Credit: David Vaughan What is Thwaites Glacier? Thwaites is the widest glacier on Earth, at ~120 km (~80 miles) wide. 21. The example above illustrates only one of the results that have already been obtained as part of the ITGC program framework. Shocking moment a giant iceberg three times the size of PARIS calves off one of Antarctica's fastest-shrinking glaciers is captured in European satellite footage ... if the Thwaites Glacier … The ITGC program is composed of 8 different research projects and involves more than 60 scientists, divided into 6 field work projects (red solid circles in Fig. Thwaites, about the size of Florida, is currently responsible for about 4 percent of global sea level rise, making it one of the most dangerous glaciers in the world, according to scientists. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest and most unstable ice streams in Antarctica. The blog is currently run by Violaine Coulon and Marie Cavitte. Its grounding line – the separation between the ice sheet that is attached to the bedrock and the floating ice shelf – has retreated by 14 km between 1996 and 2011 (more details about the importance of the grounding line in this post). WIRED's January cover story is taking readers to Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier. Collapse of the glacier would require a few centuries. Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is enormous and is often referred to as the most dangerous glacier on Earth. With the West Antarctic Ice Sheet currently losing ice at a fast pace, leading to sea-level rise, it is very important to better understand the processes by which this ice melting occurs. The glacier terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000 m below sea level. Thwaites was nearly seven stories high here, at its eastern edge, and the bluish cliff glowed against the grayscale sky.It was snowing, and foggy, and the glacier appeared like something out of this world. It has also been dubbed the doomsday glacier. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. 1. This is the last in a series, Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier. Part 1: Is Thwaites Glacier … Thwaites Glacier ice loss currently contributes around 4% of all global sea-level rise (assuming 3.5 mm annual sea-level rise) and has the potential to contribute significantly more. The cavity formed mostly in the previous three years and is nearly a thousand feet tall, likely speeding up the glacier's decay. 2017, Global & Planetary Change. The EGU blogs welcome guest contributions, so if you've got a great idea for a post or fancy trying your hand at science communication, please contact the blog editor or the. ), 10. It's a giant mass of more than 192,000 square kilometers (74,000 square miles) -- an area similar in size … Thwaites Glacier. The flow speed of Thwaites has been increasing, while inland snowfall has not changed significantly. Part 1: Is Thwaites Glacier … David Docquier is a post-doctoral researcher at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) in Sweden. Figure 2: Map of Antarctica showing the changes in ice velocity (modeled changes in % due to observed ice-shelf thinning, in colors) and changes in ice mass (red circles mean ice loss and blue circles mean ice gain) due to ice-shelf thinning between 1994 and 2012. Observations show unequivocally that the Thwaites Glacier ice-ocean system is undergoing the largest changes of any ice-ocean system in Antarctica. The impact of thinning ice shelves on glacier flow had already been suggested (see this study for example), but PROPHET allowed the first quantification of this process through the combined use of an ice-sheet model and satellite observations. The Thwaites region of West Antarctica is due south of the western US, 7000 miles away. A few weeks before the conference, I visited Anandakrishnan at Penn State. The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is the size of Britain. ITGC consists of eight science projects, six are field-work oriented, and two are focused on modeling of glacier processes and its recent and future evolution. 5. (Source and calculation: https://data1.geo.tu-dresden.de/ais_gmb/ Over the 14 year period of 2002–2016, Basin AIS21, which is slightly larger than just TG, has lost 748 Gt, equating to 2.07 mm of global sea level compared to a current rate of global sea level rise of 3.2 mma-1=4.6%. Credit: Fig. Welcome to the blog of the Cryospheric Sciences (CR) Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). November 10, 2011 ... his description of flying nine parallel flight tracks at only 1,500 feet altitude over the Thwaites Glacier. Indeed, Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest contributors to global sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Over the past 30 years, the amount of ice flowing out of the region has nearly doubled, and computer models show that over the next several decades, the glacier may lose ice even more rapidly. The Thwaites Glacier in … This ice mass has also been labelled as the “world's most dangerous glacier” because it holds enough ice to raise the world oceans more than two feet. Thwaites Glacier was named after Fredrik T. Thwaites (1883–1961), a glacial geologist, geomorphologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. See the copyright page for more information. Thwaites Glacier covers 74,000 square miles—an area the size of Florida—and is particularly susceptible to climate and ocean changes. 19. And its ice mass loss has doubled between 2006 and 2014. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in West Antarctica covering a region of the size of Great Britain (see Fig. 2017, Global & Planetary Change and references therein), 16. Thwaites glacier is larger the England and could drive global sea levels up by two feet (60cm) if it were to totally collapse. The researchers found that the thinning of the floating ice shelf of Thwaites Glacier (and other glaciers in West Antarctica) instantaneously impacts the speed of ice flow via a loss of buttressing (see this post for an explanation of buttressing), which leads to sea-level rise. Robel, along with scientists Helene Seroussi and Gerard Roe used mathematical analysis and computer models to make projections of sea levels in the future. WAIS is large! Over the past 30 years, this glacier has undergone dramatic changes. Figure 3: Vertical profile of Thwaites Glacier (white color on the left side), ocean (blue color on the right side) and bedrock (brown color on the bottom), with key drivers, processes and their effects. “Thwaites is a terrifying glacier,” Anandakrishnan says simply. We have already briefly mentioned this collaboration in a previous post, and this post will provide more hints about it. Thwaites glacier is losing ice at an accelerating rate, threatening catastrophic sea-level rise. At 74,000 square miles, the glacier is roughly the same size as Florida and is particularly susceptible to climate and ocean changes, according to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. UK and US scientists are collaborating to investigate one of the most unstable glaciers in Antarctica, the Thwaites Glacier, roughly the same size as Florida or Britain. Learn more about Thwaites Glacier's size, location, and more Click here to download our facts sheet. Each ITGC project is closely linked to the overall program with the goal of advancing our understanding of the processes that control ice loss from Thwaites Glacier, and to communicate the results to the public, the wider scientific community and policymakers. Letters; Paolo et al., 2015 Science; Scambos et al. Would you like to write a blog entry about your research? I also recommend that you have a look at the Thwaites Explorer, which is an interactive visualization tool providing details about how and why the glacier is changing, and how this affects global sea level. 1).. Over the past 30 years, this glacier has undergone dramatic changes. At 74,000 square miles, the glacier is roughly the same size as Florida and is particularly susceptible to climate and ocean changes, according to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. The focus is Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the size of Florida and sits on the western edge of Antarctica. The glacier itself was mapped more thoroughly in 1959-66. In the last decade, huge chunks of the glacier calved away in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and now in 2020. The Thwaites Glacier in … Instantaneous Antarctic ice‐ sheet mass loss driven by thinning ice shelves. Thwaites, about the size of Florida, is currently responsible for about 4 percent of global sea level rise, making it one of the most dangerous glaciers in the world, according to scientists. 1. Fig. 1). (2019). Thwaites Glacier covers 74,000 square miles—an area the size of Florida—and is particularly susceptible to climate and ocean changes. Thwaites Glacier is roughly equidistant between the UK’s Rothera Research Station and the US McMurdo Research Station. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier covers 70,270 square miles (182,000 square km), the approximate size of Florida. From this figure, it is obvious that the main losses in ice mass from Antarctica occur in the Amundsen Sea, where Thwaites Glacier (TWG) is located. Thwaites is the widest glacier on Earth, at ~120 km (~80 miles) wide. Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is 74,000 square miles, the size of Great Britain, and is thought to be particularly susceptible to climate change. The growing cavity sits in West Antarctica at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier, which is about as big as Florida and contains enough ice to contribute more than 2 feet to sea level rise, NASA said. ), 7. : A science review and outlook for research on the instability of Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier in the 21st century, Global and Planetary Change. 2 shows the instantaneous change in ice velocity (colors) and ice mass (circles) in Antarctica from 1994 to 2012 due to ice-shelf thinning. Researchers found exactly this situation at Thwaites last year, when they discovered a cavern two-thirds the size of Manhattan and nearly a thousand feet tall underneath the glacier. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, but they receive 7% of Antarctica’s snowfall 1. Even now, ice draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea accounts for about 4% of global sea-level rise. Since 2000, the glacier has had a net loss of more than 1000 billion tons of ice. Thwaites Glacier. It was initially delineated from aerial photographs collected during Operation Highjump in January 1947. In this context, Thwaites Glacier is a very good case study of an accelerating glacier, which contributes substantially to sea-level rise, and for which a huge scientific collaboration effort has recently been set up. This will then allow scientists to refine model projections of future sea-level rise, which are of significant relevance to our society. ), 13. 1). The focus is Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the size of Florida and sits on the western edge of Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters. If Thwaites Glacier continues to accelerate, retreat, and widen at rates consistent with recent changes, it could contribute several cm to sea-level rise by the end of the century. The aim of the blog is to get you, the reader, excited about all things related to ice, whether it be the tiniest ice crystals, snow drifts, beautiful mountain glaciers or the vast polar ice sheets. This is the last in a series, Into the Thaw: Decoding Thwaites Glacier. ITGC is the largest joint US-UK programme of field science yet undertaken in the Antarctic, in terms of numbers of separate deployments of scientists to field and marine sites. NASA said sea levels could rise by 2 additional feet if the glacier collapses, which … Thwaites glacier is between 800 and 1200 metres deep at its grounding line (Source: Bedmap2, Fretwell et al., 2013 The Cryosphere; BAS 40-hour Flightlines, 2019 and 2020). The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier, which covers more than 74,000 square miles, could raise global sea levels more than 2 feet, according to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. Credit: Fig. (Source: Bamber et al., 10.1126/science.1169335), © 2020 CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder. The Thwaites Glacier is around the size of Florida, and the team of NASA-led scientists researching it had expected to find "some gaps" between the ice and bedrock. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, but they receive 7% of Antarctica’s snowfall 1. 11. Thwaites Glacier is part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). His study focuses on the interactions between ocean heat transport and Arctic sea ice using the EC-Earth global climate model. Over the past 30 years, the amount of ice flowing out of the region has nearly doubled, and computer models show that over the next several decades, the glacier may lose ice even more rapidly. ( 2019). Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centred between 50 and 100 km (31 and 62 mi) east of Mount Murphy on the north coast of West Antarctica. AS BG CL CR ESSI G GD GM GMPV HS NH NP OS SM SSP SSS ST TS. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in West Antarctica covering a region of the size of Great Britain (see Fig. If Thwaites Glacier was to collapse entirely, global sea levels would increase by 65 cm (25 in) (Source: Bedmachine, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0510-8#Sec7, gives total volume 483,000 km3; volume above flotation 258,000 km3, and sea level equivalent, 65 cm. How do the ups and downs of the solid Earth influence the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet? Its ice flow has accelerated by about 50-100 m per year since 2009. Notice the size of the glacier’s main ice tongue in 2001, when the glacier was advancing by about 4 kilometers per year. (2017). The first identification of Thwaites Glacier was in January 1947 through the mapping of its ice tongue by the US Navy during the airborne photographic surveys of Operation High Jump. The flow speed of Thwaites has been increasing, while inland snowfall has not changed significantly. TWG stands for Thwaites Glacier. Collapse of Antarctic glacier the size of Britain threatens to flood coastal towns Save An "enormous" array of assets is being tasked to the Thwaites Glacier Credit: British Antarctic Survey Please get in touch with the editor, Violaine Coulon. If Thwaites in Antarctica, which is around the size of Florida or Great Britain, were to collapse, it could lead to an increase in sea levels of around 25 inches (65 centimetres). The Thwaites Glacier is around the size of Florida, and the team of NASA-led scientists researching it had expected to find "some gaps" between the ice and bedrock. Its surface elevation has thinned by about 1.5-2 m between 2011 and 2014. Learn more about the mission. Required fields are marked *, You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
. Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in West Antarctica covering a region of the size of Great Britain (see Fig. Thwaites Glacier Basin measures 74,000 mi² or 192,000 km2 (Source: Rignot 2019, PNAS), 3. The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) is the two nations' biggest cooperative venture on the White Continent for more than 70 years - … British and American experts are launching the largest joint mission for more than 70 years to investigate how long the 113,000 square-mile Thwaites Glacier can last in its current form. This makes it one of the glaciers on Earth (if not the one) with the greatest potential for sea-level rise in the next years (see this review). One example of the early findings from the ITGC program is from the PROPHET modeling project (see this study). They wanted to understand how possible scenarios of future sea level rise might change over time as a result of marine ice sheet instability. Warming of the atmosphere and ocean and their interaction with the glacier are driving the change. (Source: MIllilo et al., 2019, Science), 15. (Sources: Mouginot et al., 2014, Geophysical Res. Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x10 3 km 2). Did you know… that you can read the edge of Greenland’s ice as an open book? The Thwaites glacier in Antarctica is massive - roughly the size of Great Britain. Here, the latest fieldwork programmes, research projects or scientific results will be showcased by bloggers from the cryospheric community. Thwaites Glacier is melting fast, and scientists fear its collapse could one day destabilize surrounding glaciers and eventually trigger up to 11 feet of global sea level rise. (Source: Google Earth; Rothera to mid-grounding line of Thwaites Glacier = 1588 km; McMurdo to mid-grounding line of Thwaites Glacier = 2050 km), 6. More details about all these projects can be found on the ITGC website. Currently, Thwaites' ice loss contributes approximately 4% to the annual rise in global sea-levels, with the potential to add 65cm in total should the whole glacier collapse. Thwaites Glacier is melting fast, and scientists fear its collapse could one day destabilize surrounding glaciers and eventually trigger up to 11 feet of global sea level rise. Gudmundsson et al. (Source and calculation:) https://data1.geo.tu-dresden.de/ais_gmb/ Over the period 2002–2016 (14 years), Basin AIS21, which is slightly larger than just TG, has lost a total of 748 Gt. Assuming the last 4 years lost ice at the same rate gives a total of 1068 Gt.). It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost. The goal of the ITGC program is to shed light on all these outlined processes, with the aim to better predict the fate of Thwaites Glacier. 2 of Gudmundsson et al. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier has covered 70,270 square miles, almost the approximate size of Florida. 2017, Global & Planetary Change, It is larger than England, Wales and Northern Ireland put together (England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a combined area of 164,000 km, And roughly the size of the island of Britain (Great Britain is 209,000 km, It is larger than US state of Florida (Florida covers an area of 170,000 km. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is located in one of the most remote places on earth and just so happens to be about the size of the State of Florida. Despite its massive cavity, Thwaites Glacier still contains enough ice to raise the world ocean by a little over 2 feet. Thwaites, he said, was a 120km-wide “monster glacier” that is continuing its retreat with huge future implications, because it could potentially add 0.6 metres to rising seas. (Source: Scambos et al. The craggy face of Thwaites loomed a few hundred feet away, but seemed almost close enough to touch, or at least within shouting distance. Cavity roughly two-thirds the size of Manhattan is growing under Thwaites, described by scientists as world's most dangerous glacier, per a NASA study. The Thwaites glacier is 74,000 square miles, roughly the size of the UK. (Source: https://thwaitesglacier.org/). 17. Featured News. The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier, which covers more than 74,000 square miles, could raise global sea levels more than 2 feet, according to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. However, statements or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. “The more this marine ice sheet instability occurs, the wider the range of possible future sea level rise becomes,” Robel says. Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x10 3 km 2). Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centred between 50 and 100 km east of Mount Murphy. Notice the size of the glacier’s main ice tongue in 2001, when the glacier was advancing by about 4 kilometers per year. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number NSF-PLR 1738913, and reviewed by NSF. 4. Fig. 20. Figure 1: Map showing the location of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, as well as the main geographic focus of the 8 projects involved in the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). Cryospheric Sciences | What’s up on Thwaites Glacier? This guest post was contributed by a scientist, student or a professional in the Earth, planetary or space sciences. (Source: Elevation Map of Antarctica (REMA), Howat et al., 2019, The Cryosphere), 2. (Calculation: 100-km wide front, ~1000 meters thick, 5km/yr, 50 years = ~7 cm), 9. News: Register here for the Antarctica Week Festival. Ice surface speeds exceed 2 km annually (1.2 miles annually) near its grounding line. 50 billion tonnes assumes 4% of 3.5 mm annual sea-level rise. Thwaites Glacier, sometimes referred to as the Doomsday Glacier, is an unusually broad and vast Antarctic glacier flowing into the Pine Island Bay, part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is the size of Florida. Bryan Christie Design. NASA said sea levels could rise by 2 additional feet if the glacier collapses, which … The growing cavity sits in West Antarctica at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier, which is about as big as Florida and contains enough ice to contribute more than 2 feet to sea level rise, NASA said. IceBridge Targets Thwaites, Recovery Glaciers . International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) website, EGU Cryoblog ‘What’s currently going on in Antarctic science?’, EGU Cryoblog Marine ice sheet instability “For Dummies”, Mapping the bottom of the world — an Interview with Brad Herried, Antarctic Cartographer, Image of the Week — Ice Sheets and Sea Level Rise (from IPCC), Image of the Week – The Lost Meteorites of Antarctica…, Life of a scientist: When fieldwork doesn’t go to plan…, Seafloor secrets: traces of the past Patagonian ice sheet. His work is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie OSeaIce project. 1) and 2 modeling projects (red open circles in Fig. The amount of ice loss has doubled over the last 30 years by Thwaites and its neighbouring glaciers. Thwaites glacier is larger the England and could drive global sea levels up by two feet (60cm) if it were to totally collapse. The area of WAIS is approximately 3,435,000 km2. NASA discovered an underwater cavity underneath the glacier, with an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan in January 2019. The first sighting of the coastline in this area of Antarctica was in 1940, as part of the third Byrd expedition. News. This ice mass has also been labelled as the “world's most dangerous glacier” because it holds enough ice to raise the world oceans more than two feet. The glacier terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000 m below sea level. Back in 1990s, the glacier was losing around 10 billion tonnes of ice each year. 2 of Scambos et al. If the WAIS collapsed and melted in its entirety, global sea levels would rise by 3.3 metres; however, this process would require centuries to millennia. Lett., Gardner et al., 2018, The Cryosphere (using Landsat)), 14. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier has covered 70,270 square miles, almost the approximate size of Florida. 12. Indeed, Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest contributors to global sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If the glacier melts entirely, it could trigger a 10-foot rise in sea levels. How much, how fast? 3 below shows a vertical profile of Thwaites Glacier and the ocean around it with the key drivers and their effects highlighted. Professor Thwaites never actually visited the glacier. The 5-year collaboration is costing an estimated $50M. It constitutes the largest joint project undertaken by the 2 countries in Antarctica in the last 70 years (since the conclusion of a mapping project on the Antarctic Peninsula in the late 1940s). In this context, the largest Earth Science funding agencies in the UK and US, namely the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), have teamed up to set up a 5-year collaboration program that started in 2018, the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). (Source: Bedmachine https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0510-8#Sec7), 8. How small changes can make a big difference: tipping points in Antarctica, Running a live stream of proglacial processes. It is up to 4,000 meters thick and is considered a key in making projections of global sea level rise. Its ice flow has accelerated by about 50-100 m per year since 2009. Over 100 scientists and support staff are involved in the ITGC in the 2019-2020 research season. But it’s receding by about half a mile per year. Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is 74,000 square miles, the size of Great Britain, and is thought to be particularly susceptible to climate change. Cavity roughly two-thirds the size of Manhattan is growing under Thwaites, described by scientists as world's most dangerous glacier, per a NASA study. West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier covers 70,270 square miles (182,000 square km), the approximate size of Florida. “Not only that… Annually Thwaites is losing about 50 billion tons of ice more than it is receiving in snowfall. (Sources: Mouginot et al., 2019, Geophys. However, many more processes are at play on the glacier and in its vicinity. Thwaites Glacier) is an unusually broad and fast Antarctic glacier flowing into Pine Island Bay, part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land Its surface speeds exceed 2 km/yr near its grounding line. (2017). Unless otherwise indicated, the content on this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0). 18.