Scientists have just identified Achilles Hill in the Thai Glacier.
This Antarctic colossus is melting at a rapid rate, shedding billions of tons of ice each year and pushing global sea-levels forward.
Now, the UK-US team has surveyed deep seabed channels in front of glaciers that provide almost certainly hot water access to penetrate and invade the interior of Thailand.
This is the information that will be used to try to predict the future of ice flow.
“These channels haven’t been mapped to this kind of detail before, and what we discovered was that they were actually much larger than anyone thought00 meters deep. Think back to the six football pitches,” Dr. Kelly said. Hogan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
“And these are so deep and so wide – it allows a lot more water to enter and melt in the ice floes of the Thaits as well as on the beach,” he told BBC News.
Why is the Thai Glacier so important?
The Thawets, flowing west of the Antarctic continent, are almost as large as Great Britain.
It’s a glorious view, with its bouncy front, or “ice shelf” pushing too far to the sea and kicking huge icebergs. However, satellite observations indicate that the glacier is melting at an accelerating rate.
In the 1990s it was losing only 10 billion tons of ice a year. Today it is about 60 billion tons. The reason for the melting is thought to be the flow of relatively warm surface water from the vast ocean.
Currently, the loss of ice in Thaits contributes about 4% to the annual increase in global sea-level, with a total of 65 cm likely to be added after the entire glacier collapses.
No one thinks it will happen in the short-to-medium term, but in a warmer world Thoatis is considered a particular weakness, and scientists want to know exactly how quickly any change can happen.
What does the latest study show?
The United Kingdom and the United States joined forces in 1999 to investigate the Thawets.
Their scientists climbed a glacier ice cap on a ship equipped with echo-sounders to detect the shape of the sea floor below.
A plane also flew backwards across the shelf to measure small variations in gravitational pull. These deviations reflect the unchanging nature of the marine fluorescence beneath the shelf.
The two datasets taken together now provide the best view of Thaiates’ underlying topography. They find their way into a network of deep channels that cut into a container before joining to form a large hole under the ice.
“Connected channels, which we have mapped in detail for the first time, could potentially enter the warm waters of the deep sea and cause damage where the glacier is still on the coast, where it begins to rise,” explained Dr. Tom Jordan, a BAS associate. “But melt the neck of the ice shelf. If you’re weak, the ice will turn upstream into the glacier stream.”
How will the new survey data be used?
Scientists need real-world data to coil their models so that when they simulate possible future behaviors, they can get realistic results.
The new information modifies volumes for access to warm water that can be considered in a variety of situations.
While conducting their survey, scientists also now have a better idea of the general roughness of the sea floor.
It can achieve many more types of motion ice in glaciers that pass through rocks and sediments. What researchers have created is a kind of “stickiness index” to additionally limit computer models if you like.
What could happen in the near future?
At this point, the eastern side of the ice shelf is attached to a large mountain, which gives it stability. But the current melting trend suggests that the situation will not last long, said Dr. Robert Larter of BAS.
When he told BBC News, “When the eastern ice shelf becomes pinless, the ice will spread and thin, eventually breaking, because we can see that now (the central) glacier is happening on the tongue,” he told BBC News. “Before ice shelf break-up, unpinning and thinning will reduce the impact of ice sheets on top of the ice flow, resulting in increased ice flow velocity. As a result, it will further thin the retreat of the glacier and grounding line.”
The Covid-19 crisis forced British and American scientists to suspend their investigations in Thailand.
This Australian summer the teams were due to return to the glacier, but the remoteness of the location means the risks are very high if anyone falls ill. Scientists will return once the coronavirus outbreak is properly contained.
Dr. Hogan said, “It’s amazing to go to a place like Thailand and see the changes happening right before your eyes,” “We were able to reach the ice when we were in 2016, and the reason we do that and make our observations is because of the icebergs and the sea -The ice is starting to disappear are “
The latest study has been published in two Chrysler journals and can be accessed here and here.
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