October 27, 2011
Glacier Could Raise Global Sea Levels In 20 Years Earlier
Researchers said on Wednesday that an Antarctic glacier with the potential to raise global sea levels could speed up its retreat within 20 years.
Columbia University researchers said the Thwaites Glacier is expected to speed up once it detaches from an underwater ridge it is currently attached too.The ridge appears to be slowing the glacier's slide into the sea, but the finding says the glacier is losing its grip on a previously unknown ridge.
The researcher said this explains why the glacier seems to be moving faster than it used to.
"Knowing the ridge is there lets us understand why the wide ice tongue that used to be in front of the glacier has broken up," researcher Robin Bell of Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a statement.
"We can now predict when the last bit of floating ice will lift off the ridge. We expect more ice will come streaming out of the Thwaites Glacier when this happens."
NASA also said on Wednesday that its IceBridge team has a large crack running across the floating ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier.
The space agency said scientists are concerned about the impact Pine Island's continued thinning will have on sea level.
Image 1: New seafloor topography off Antarctica´s Thwaites Glaciers leads scientists to predict accelerated melting in the next 20 years. (Credit: Frank Nitsche, Lamont-Doherty)
Image 2: Thwaites Glacier is currently pinned on the peak of a newly discovered underwater ridge. (Credit: Kirsty Tinto. Lamont-Doherty)
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