'Doomsday Glacier' Melting Faster Than Initial Calculations

Jun 5, 2024

The Thwaites Glacier

The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica appears to be melting faster than previously thought. It's the world’s widest glacier. And it's been called the “Doomsday Glacier” by experts. The more rapid melt could put millions of people in coastal regions in danger across the globe.

Warming ocean water is rushing against the glacier miles beneath its surface. This is causing ice melt. Melting glaciers are pushing up sea levels worldwide. If sea levels keep rising over time, it will lead to major flooding. Hundreds of millions of people could be displaced.   

The Thwaites Glacier alone would raise sea levels by as much as two feet if it fully melts. That’s from a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was run at the University of California, Irvine (UIC). Experts used satellite radar from space to pinpoint the seawater movements. They tracked the data over a number of months. It shows that warm seawater is rolling against a much wider span of the Thwaites than experts believed before.     

“Thwaites is the most unstable place in the Antarctic," Christine Dow said in a news release. She's the study's co-author. Dow added that a fully melted Thwaites could raise sea levels 60 centimeters. “The worry is that we are underestimating the speed that the glacier is changing,” she said. That "would be devastating for coastal communities around the world.” 

Scientists have been trying to come up with ways to try to save the glaciers. One idea would involve building a huge wall in the seabed to block the warm seawater from the Thwaites. But that concept remains in the developmental stage. It would cost billions of dollars to build.     

Reflect: How can melting ice and rising sea levels affect the people who live near seas and oceans?

Based on the details in both the article and the infographic, the”Doomsday Glacier” is located in _______. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. East Antarctica
b. West Antarctica
c. The Antarctic Peninsula
d. The Transantarctic mountain region
For more formative assessments, visit thejuicelearning.com to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today