There is talk of an “alarming discovery” in a press release that appeared on the New York University website. Researchers have discovered an unusual amount of hot water at a point considered vital under an Antarctic glacier. This mass of hot water is accelerating the melting of the ice, raising concerns that the scientists themselves made the discovery.
“If these waters caused the glaciers in Antarctica to melt, the resulting changes in sea level would be felt in the most inhabited parts of the world,” explains David Holland, one of the scientists behind the research.
The hot water mass they discovered has a temperature of two degrees above zero and flows under the Thwaites glacier, one of the most analysed and studied glaciers of the Antarctic ice cap and one of the most massive.
The water mass is located right in the glacier’s grounding zone, an area where the ice “transfers” from the rocky substratum and begins to float over the ocean as an ice shelf.
According to scientists, the melting of the Thwaites glacier alone could also have devastating effects globally. We are talking about a mass of water the size of Great Britain that already today is causing about 4% of the global sea level rise.
According to Holland, this hot water could trigger an unstoppable melting of the glacier that would have enormous implications for the rise in sea level globally.
The discovery was made after researchers created a hole 600 meters deep and 35 cm wide inside the glacier and after they inserted a special detection device in the hole itself. The water temperature under the glacier was measured between January 10 and 11.
“From our observations in the oceanic cavity in the grounding zone we observed not only the presence of hot water, but also its turbulence level and therefore its efficiency to melt the base of the ice platform,” explains Aurora Basinski, a student at New York University who participated in the expedition.
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