Scientists have spotted a hole never seen before under the Antarctic ice.
The cavity measures 984 feet in height and about two-thirds the size of Manhattan. This is a sign that this part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting faster than the experts thought.
The Antarctic is surrounded by an ice floe of ice patches and floating ice trays that serve as a buffer between the ocean and the landlocked ice on the mainland. These floating leaves "act like a dam," had already told Business Insider Ross Virginia, director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College. They prevent continental ice from flowing into the ocean, where it will eventually melt, causing rising sea levels.
But with the rising temperatures of the ocean, the warmer water at the base of these ice caps melts them. This fusion gives rise to cavities like the one recently discovered.
"[The size of] A cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting, "said Pietro Milillo, environmental engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a press release, and the lead author of the study. faster. "
The discovery is just an indicator of the complex structure of ice retreat and melting at Thwaites Glacier, said the authors of the new study. Thwaites Glacier sections retreat 2,625 feet per year.
When ice caps melt, they lose their structural integrity. If they disintegrate, an influx of continental ice could spill into the ocean – an event called "impulse" that would cause a rapid rise in sea level.
Here's how scientists found the cavity alarming and why Thwaites Glacier could be on a one-way road towards its demise.