‘Doomsday Glacier’ Melting More Rapidly Than Predicted, Could Raise Sea Levels by 10 Feet

The Thwaites glacier
The Thwaites glacier. Felton Davis / CC BY 2.0
Why you can trust us

Founded in 2005 as an Ohio-based environmental newspaper, EcoWatch is a digital platform dedicated to publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions.

A massive Antarctic glacier is less stable and could potentially cause more and more rapid sea level rise than previously predicted, a study published Monday in Nature Geoscience finds.

The Thwaites Glacier, known as the “doomsday glacier” because it holds enough water to raise global sea levels by multiple feet, is especially susceptible to rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change because it rests on the seabed and can thus be melted from underneath.

After conducting an extensive mapping of the ocean floor, researchers found that at some point in the last 200 years, the base of the glacier dislodged from the seabed and retreated at double its recent rate of retreat. If Thwaites underwent another such rapid retreat, the results could be “existential,” University of South Florida marine geologist Alastair Graham, a co-author of the study, told The Washington Post.

The specter of the rapid disintegration of the Thwaites Glacier comes as Greenland — which lost enough ice in one weekend this summer to put West Virginia under a foot of water  — recorded its largest September ice melt on record.

“This [September] event demonstrates how global warming does not only increase the intensity but also the length of the melting season,” Maurice van Tiggelen, a polar scientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, told The Washington Post.

For a deeper dive:

Thwaites: The Washington Post, CNN, The Hill, CBS, USA Today, ABC, Insider, NBC, CNN, USA Today; Greenland: The Washington Post; Climate Signals background: Glacier and ice sheet melt, Sea level rise

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

Subscribe to get exclusive updates in our daily newsletter!

    By signing up, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy & to receive electronic communications from EcoWatch Media Group, which may include marketing promotions, advertisements and sponsored content.

    Read More

    Factory Farming Is on the Ballot in Switzerland
    Factory farming is on the ballot in Switzerland, which could
    By Olivia Rosane
    Australia Failed to Protect Torres Strait Islanders From Climate Change, Violating Their Rights, UN Says
    In a landmark ruling, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights
    By Cristen Hemingway Jaynes
    U.S. Ratifies First Climate Treaty in 30 Years
    The U.S. Senate ratified a treaty Wednesday that could prevent
    By Olivia Rosane

    Subscribe to get exclusive updates in our daily newsletter!

      By signing up, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy & to receive electronic communications from EcoWatch Media Group, which may include marketing promotions, advertisements and sponsored content.

      Latest Articles