Newly discovered extensive cracking on a Florida-sized block of Antarctic ice known as the Doomsday glacier means the behemoth is likely to collapse within five years, leading to damning sea level rises around the world.
That is according to scientists monitoring Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, known as the largest fast-changing glacier in the world.
According to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), the behemoth “is thinning rapidly, has already retreated over eight miles, and has doubled in speed, in the last five decades”.
The ITGC added: “The vulnerable glacier is the size of Florida, and if it melts, global sea levels could rise by nearly 10 feet – putting millions of people living in coastal cities in danger zones for extreme flooding.”
Long-time Irish environmental campaigner John Gibbons, who has been warning about the perils of climate change for more than a decade, said the findings from ITGC were very stark.
“The ice shelf holding back the giant Thwaites glacier in Antarctica has been found to be seriously compromised, with extensive cracking – akin to the cracks on a windscreen – detected,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Leading scientists now expect this shelf to collapse within the next five years, which will have grave implications, Mr Gibbons said.
“That would cause the eastern section of the Thwaites glacier to triple its rate of speed, pushing landlocked ice into the sea. Hotter ocean water temperatures are eroding the sea ice shelf that is holding the giant glacier in place.
“Failure of this shelf would be like pulling the plug out of a bottle, allowing the land-based glacier to flow into the sea, raising sea levels. Total collapse of the Thwaites glacier will over time lead to several feet of global sea level rise, inundating many low-lying areas.”
“Thwaites, an ice sheet the size of *Florida*, is likely to break apart in the next 5 years or so…”
— John Gibbons (@think_or_swim) December 13, 2021
The ITGC lead scientist Professor Ted Scambos said that if Thwaites were to collapse, “it would drag most of West Antarctica