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Piece of a glacier.
The magnifying glass placed on the glaciers. Photo: Pixabay.

About to collapse, the 'glacier at the end of the world' in Antarctica

According to the latest scientific findings, its detachment would raise the sea level by several meters.

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Taking into account the latest report on the state of the glaciers in Antarctica, there is currently a state of alert due to the high risk of collapse facing the Thwaites glacier, known as the "glacier at the end of the world" precisely because, before its imminent detachment from the earth's surface, threatens to increase the global sea level.

CNN warns of the dramatic rise in sea level that would accompany its potential disappearance, referring to a study published earlier this week by the academic journal Nature Geoscience, in which the historic retreat of the glacier was mapped by experts to learn about its past and try to predict their future behavior.

Findings 

They found that the base of the glacier has broken away from the seabed and retreated at a rate of 2.1 km per year for about two centuries. That's double the speed scientists have observed in the last decade.

"Thwaites is almost at the limit, and we should expect to see big changes on small timescales in the future even from year to year, once the glacier recedes beyond a shallow ridge in its bed," said in a statement Robert Larter, a marine geophysicist and one of the study's co-authors from the British Antarctic Survey.

Panoramic image of the glaciers in Antarctica. Photo: Pixabay.
Panoramic image of the glaciers in Antarctica. Photo: Pixabay.

According to the most recent findings, documented on a 20-hour mission in extreme conditions, there is a high probability that Thwaites could recede at a much faster rate than recently thought.

Alastair Graham, lead author of the study and a marine geophysicist at the University of South Florida, who hopes his team can soon return to the seafloor to establish when the earlier rapid recoils occurred, noted that "a small hit to Thwaites could produce a great answer.”

The glacier of the “Last Judgment”

Located in West Antarctica, it is one of the widest on Earth. Although studies began in the 1970s, it was only at the beginning of the 21st century that researchers began to document the rapid retreat of Thwaites in different studies.

According to NASA, if it fell into the sea, this piece of ice could raise the sea level up to 4.8 meters. Because the glacier is anchored to the seabed, rather than on dry land, warm ocean currents could melt the glacier from below, causing much faster destabilization.

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