A ‘Doomsday Glacier’ in Antarctica 

A ‘Doomsday Glacier’ in Antarctica 

Giving the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica—one of the largest glaciers in the world—the nickname, the “Doomsday Glacier,” doesn’t instill much confidence in its ability to remain a body of dense ice.

A study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience instills even less confidence, with data showing the glacier could speed up its rate of retreat at any moment, leading to a collapse that could increase the global sea level by more than two feet.

A multi-national research team employed the bright orange Rán robotic vehicle loaded with imaging sensors to map an area of the seabed in front of the glacier that was about the size of Houston.

“It was truly a once in a lifetime mission,” Graham says in the release, noting that the team wants to sample the seabed sediments to more accurately date the ridge-like features created by glacier movement.

Calling the data beautiful, if not concerning, Graham mapped a critical area of the seafloor in front of the glacier in high-resolution, learning that Thwaites

at some point in the last 200 years, over a duration of less than six months, retreated at a rate of more than 1.3 miles per year—twice the documented rate seen from satellite imagery between 2011 and 2019.

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