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Scientists alarmed by discovery after sending robot under the 'Doomsday Glacier'

Scientists alarmed by discovery after sending robot under the 'Doomsday Glacier'

Experts warned that a glacier the size of Florida is 'in trouble'

If you thought the Doomsday Clock was something to worry about, then you'll want to hear about some recent findings about the Doomsday Glacier.

The glacier, officially known as Thwaites Glacier, is located in West Antartica and gets its nickname from the impact it could cause on the globe's sea levels.

In comparison to 20,000 years ago, sea level has risen by more than 125 metres (410 ft) as a result of global warming, and the Doomsday Glacier alone holds enough ice to raise the ocean by 3.3 meters.

Over the last 100 years, global temperatures have risen about 1°C. While it doesn't sound like much, it's having detrimental impacts on our planet.

Researchers at the site of the Thwaites Glacier - which is said to be the size of Florida - previously found that deep cracks are forming on the shelf, which helps keep the glacier in one piece.

It was said that these cracks were degrading at a concerning rate, so scientists sent a robot deep down into the icy surface to get a better look at what was going on with the glacier and to see just how bad things were.

The results were published February 2023. The device, named 'Icefin', bored down around 2,000ft and took a collection of photos and video.

The team sent a robot down beneath the surface of the glacier to see what was going on. (Rob Robbins)
The team sent a robot down beneath the surface of the glacier to see what was going on. (Rob Robbins)

It also recorded vital pieces of date, including temperature and salt levels.

And sadly for us, it wasn't great news, with fears growing that the rate of melting could lead to its collapse.

In a statement to CNN, lead researcher Peter Davis said it was 'a very nuanced and complex picture'.

Even though the rate of melting wasn't found to be as high as previous estimates, Davis said it wasn't a time for complacency.

He said: "The glacier is still in trouble. What we have found is that despite small amounts of melting there is still rapid glacier retreat, so it seems that it doesn’t take a lot to push the glacier out of balance."

Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. (Ashley Cooper/Getty Images)
Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. (Ashley Cooper/Getty Images)

Speaking more recently, Christine Dow, an associate professor of glaciology at the University of Waterloo has said that they hope it'll take at least 500 years for the Doomsday Glacier to melt.

"We really, really need to understand how fast the ice is changing, how fast it is going to change over the next 20 to 50 years," she explained to Scientific American last month.

"We were hoping it would take a hundred, 500 years to lose that ice. A big concern right now is if it happens much faster than that."

Featured Image Credit: Peter Davis/British Antarctic Survey/ITGC

Topics: Climate Change, Environment, Science, Antarctica

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