Research

£20m study to investigate collapse risk of major Antarctic glacier

£20m study to investigate collapse risk of major Antarctic glacier

"The Thwaites Glacier is already contributing to sea level rise and understanding of its likely collapse in the next century is of vital importance", added the UK's Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gyimah.

At the southwestern corner of Antarctic continent, there's a river of ice dubbed the "most risky glacier in the world".

Thwaites Glacier is located on the Pacific side of Antarctica, meaning that it is receiving warm water from the tropics. It is thought that when this occurs at Thwaites Glacier, the sea will basically pour down the slope underneath the mass of ice.

We already know Thwaites Glacier is melting at a rate of about 40 centimeters per year, according to the BBC.

New York University has received a US$2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to research the factors contributing to the rise in sea levels.

During the past decade or more, warm ocean water driven to the surface by increased winds surrounding Antarctica have destabilized the ice sheet from below, thinning the ice shelves and causing the grounding line, which is where land-based ice meets the ocean and becomes floating ice, to retreat inland.

Scottish scientists are to head a multi-million pound project involving gluing thermometers to elephant seals to find out whether the collapse of a huge Antarctic glacier could eventually raise global sea levels by as much as 10ft.

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The British research submarine that the internet named "Boaty McBoatface" is headed to Antarctica as part of the largest USA scientific collaboration with the U.K.in Antarctica in 70 years.

A team comprising over 100 researchers from the U.S., UK, and a handful of other countries will embark on a mission to study the West Antarctic glacier.

"The challenges of conducting fieldwork of this scope and scale in such remote locations are enormous".

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: "Rising sea levels are a globally important issue which can not be tackled by one country alone".

"The only practical way for nations to do this is to work collaboratively, each bringing their resources, both scientific and logistical, to enable complex and comprehensive field studies".

Their goal is to determine if that will begin in the coming decades or coming centuries, and to shine a light on sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to changes in climate.

They will head out to Thwaites Glacier, which is considered one of the most unsafe glaciers in the world when it comes to future rises in sea level.


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