Crucial Antarctic ice shelf, Thwaites Glacier, could fail within five years, scientists say – The Washington Post
Sarah Kaplan December 13, 2021
Scientists have discovered a series of worrying weaknesses in the ice shelf holding back one of Antarctica’s most dangerous glaciers, suggesting that this important buttress against sea level rise could shatter within the next three to five years.
Until recently, the ice shelf was seen as the most stable part of Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized frozen expanse that already contributes about 4 percent of annual global sea level rise. Because of this brace, the eastern portion of Thwaites flowed more slowly than the rest of the notorious “doomsday glacier.”
But new data show that the warming ocean is eroding the eastern ice shelf from below. Satellite images taken as recently as last month and presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union show several large, diagonal cracks extending across the floating ice wedge.