Thwaites glacier concerns in Antarctica
Recent theoretical studies and observations in Greenland show that warming sea water could destabilize glaciers, such as Thwaites, that come into contact with the ocean. Icebergs could break faster than ever seen before and float away, accelerating ice seaward from the continent’s interior. A 2016 paper in Nature predicts that Thwaites Glacier alone could drain enough ice from Antarctica to raise sea level by 10 feet within 100 years, a rate likely to force the abandonment of some entire cities.
“That’s not a worst-case scenario in any sense of the word,” Alley said grimly. Last April the National Science Foundation and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council began a $25 million research program, the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, to study the stability of the Thwaites glaciers. Research is to begin this month, though conclusive results could take years.
‘Tipping point’ comes when too late for canoe to avoid the nearby waterfall, not when actually plunging over it.