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Record Warm Water Measured Beneath Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday’ Glacier

Record Warm Water Measured Beneath Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday’ Glacier
Scientists have discovered record warm water beneath Antarctica‘s “doomsday glacier” for the first time, leading to concerns for the glacier whose collapse could contribute nearly a meter (approximately 3 feet) to global sea level rise.

The findings are part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration — a UK and U.S.-led research expedition to better understand how quickly the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica might collapse. On Jan. 8 and 9, researchers drilled a bore hole through the ice, then measured the waters beneath for the first time on Jan. 10 and 11, according to New York University (NYU). They recorded temperatures more than two degrees Celsius above freezing.

“Warm waters in this part of the world, as remote as they may seem, should serve as a warning to all of us about the potential dire changes to the planet brought about by climate change,” researcher David Holland, who directs NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Global Sea Level Change, said in the university press release. “If these waters are causing glacier melt in Antarctica, resulting changes in sea level would be felt in more inhabited parts of the world.”

The Thwaites Glacier has been called the “doomsday” glacier and the “most important” glacier in the world, BBC News explained. The glacier, roughly the size of Britain or Florida, already contributes four percent a year to global sea level rise. Not only that, it acts as a stop on the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which could raise sea levels by more than three meters (approximately 10 feet).

“It certainly has a big impact on our U.S. coast and in many areas,” Twila Moon of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, who is not involved with the Thwaites project, told The New York Times of the glacier.

While satellite data shows that the glacier is rapidly retreating, there has not been an on-the-ground investigation of the glacier until now, BBC News reported. Partly, this is because of how difficult it is to reach. West Antarctica is the stormiest place on Earth, and the glacier is more than 1,000 miles from the closest research station.

“The fear is these processes will just accelerate,” University of Oregon glaciologist Dr. Kiya Riverman told BBC News. “It is a feedback loop, a vicious cycle.”

To better understand the grounding zone, the scientists drilled a 600 meter (approximately 1,968.5 feet) hole through the ice and used a device to measure the ocean’s temperature and turbulence — a sign of the glacier’s fresh water mixing with the salt water of the ocean. This is the first time scientists have measured the ocean beneath Thwaites through a bore hole, and their results so far show they were right to be worried.

“The fact that such warm water was just now recorded by our team along a section of Thwaites grounding zone where we have known the glacier is melting suggests that it may be undergoing an unstoppable retreat that has huge implications for global sea level rise,” Holland told NYU.

Thwaites Glacier currently contributes four percent of yearly sea level rise. NASA / James Yungel

Source: EcoWatch
By:  Olivia Rosane Jan. 30, 2020 07:54AM EST
LINK:  https://www.ecowatch.com/antarctica-doomsday-glacier-water-2644974237.html?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4
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Man Swims Under East Antarctic Glacier to Highlight Impacts of the Climate Crisis

Crevasse on a glacier, Victoria Land, Antartica is seen. Endurance swimmer and climate campaigner Lewis Pugh undertook a 1 kilometer swim under one of East Antarctica’s glaciers. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images

  • Endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh has completed a 1 kilometer swim under the East Antarctic ice shelf.
  • The feat was part of his campaign to secure a series of protected zones in the seas around the continent.
  • He chose the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica to make his epic swim.

It’s been 200 years since Russian explorer Admiral Bellingshausen discovered Antarctica. It’s a frozen wilderness, and the East of the continent is the coldest place on Earth — but scientists say they are starting to see signs of ice loss even there.


Braving freezing waters and a windchill factor of -15 C, he explored a river running through an ice tunnel formed as a result of the glacier melting.

And the experience was eye-opening. “Antarctica is melting,” he says. “Everywhere I looked, there was water rushing off the ice sheet, carving long ravines deep into the ice sheet, or pooling into supraglacial lakes.”

“This place needs protecting,” he adds. “It needs protecting because all our futures depend on it.”

‘The Polar Bear’

Pugh is the only person to have undertaken long-distance swims in all the world’s oceans. At 50, he’s a veteran of many icy adventures, including swimming over the North Pole during a brief break in the sea ice, and crossing a lake that formed on a glacier on Mount Everest.

He was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders and in 2013 was appointed as the United Nations’ Patron of the Oceans.

His ability to withstand extreme cold has earned him the nickname of “The Polar Bear.”

Pugh’s East Antarctic swim is part of his campaign to secure a series of Marine Protected Areas around the continent. Antarctica already has one of these zones, in the Ross Sea, but Pugh wants all the seas around the continent to be designated protection areas in order to stem the effects of climate change.

He has already visited Moscow to mark the anniversary of Admiral Bellinghausen’s momentous discovery. And he plans to head to Beijing, London and Washington to persuade world leaders to increase protection for Antarctica.

Warning to the World

This melting causes sea levels to rise, which increases coastal erosion and creates more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Together, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are the largest contributors to global sea level rises.

The East Antarctic, with ice sheets formed over millions of years and several kilometers thick in places, has long been considered the most stable part of the continent.

But researchers say that is changing, with glaciers starting to move more quickly, which could indicate widespread shifts in the region.

“What is very clear to us from the science is that we now need to create a network of marine protected areas around Antarctica,” says Pugh. “It’s an amazing place.”

The World Economic Forum’s Net Zero Challenge was launched during this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos, challenging nations and corporations to do more to achieve the targets set out in the 2015 Paris agreement.

Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.

Source: EcoWatch
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LINK:  https://www.ecowatch.com/east-antarctica-man-swims-under-glacier-2644982824.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=96691d91cb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-96691d91cb-86118937

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