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Home / Science / The cavity below the Antarctic is a sign that the ice is melting quickly

The cavity below the Antarctic is a sign that the ice is melting quickly



Scientists have discovered a never before seen hole under the Antarctic ice.

The cavity d is 984 feet tall and about two-thirds the size of Manhattan. It's a sign that this part of the Antarctic ice sheet is melting faster than experts believe.

The Antarctic is framed by a verge of ice sheets and floating ice shelves that form a buffer between the ocean and the continental ice. These floating leaves "seem like a dam," said Ross Virginia, director of the Dartmouth College Institute of Arctic Studies, to Business Insider. They prevent continental ice from flowing into the ocean, where it would eventually melt and global sea levels rise.

But with rising sea temperatures, warmer waters melt from the bottom of these ice sheets. The melting creates cavities like this recently discovered gap.

"[The size of] A cavity beneath a glacier plays an important role in melting," said Pietro Milillo, environmental engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study, in a press release. "If more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster."

The finding is only indicative of the complex pattern of retreat and ice melt on Thwaites Glacier, the authors of the new study said. The sections of the Thwaites Glacier retreat annually by up to 2,625 feet.

When ice sheets melt from below, they lose their structural integrity. If they dissipate, an upswing of continental ice might flow into the ocean ̵

1; an event called a "pulse" that would cause a rapid rise in sea level.

So scientists found the troubling cave and why the Thwaites Glacier is on its way.


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