Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Understanding the Meltdown

I don't know about you, but when I go looking for a diversion, I really don't need to hear more bad news on top of all the bad news we're faced with each and every day. However, the need to understand what's happening in our world takes precedent. As Antarctica goes, so goes the whole planet.

Scientists may just have identified Thwaites Glacier's Achilles heel.

This Antarctic colossus is melting at a rapid rate, dumping billions of tonnes of ice in the ocean every year and pushing up global sea-levels.

Now, a UK-US team has surveyed the deep seafloor channels in front of the glacier that almost certainly provide the access for warm water to infiltrate and attack Thwaites' underside.

It's information that will be used to try to predict the ice stream's future.

"These channels had not been mapped before in this kind of detail, and what we've discovered is that they're actually much bigger than anyone thought - up to 600m deep. Think of six football pitches back to back," said Dr Kelly Hogan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

"And because they are so deep, and so wide - this allows a lot more water to get at, and melt, Thwaites' floating front as well as its ice that rests on the seabed," she told BBC News. 

If you need some good news, think of the dedication of these scientists. They may not be able to solve the problem but the fact that they're working on it is worth praise.

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