The “Glacier of the End of the World” began to melt in 1940 due to the El Niño phenomenon

The “Glacier of the End of the World” began to melt in 1940 due to the El Niño phenomenon

Its real name is Thwaites, in honor of American geologist Frederick T. Thwaites. If it retains the media name “the glacier of the end of the world,” it is because its melting, caused directly by rising sea temperatures, threatens the rest of the world. Here are some numbers to try to visualize the role of this glacier: It is 120 kilometers wide, has a surface area of ​​192,000 square kilometers, and contributes 4% to sea level rise, accounting for 50 billion tons of ice released every year. Knowing that Antarctica loses between 170 and 220 degrees, this is simply enormous, which is why there is a crucial issue in better understanding its melting rate.

“We can ultimately say that Thwaites Glacier is a bit like the cork of this entire ice basin in West Antarctica. If that cork leaves like in a bottle of champagne, then it is 'ice that goes into the oceans.'

Thanks to seven sediment samples from this glacier and its neighbor Pine Island, this new study published in PNAS shows that its disappearance is consistent with the El Niño event that occurred in 1940. Why is the melting of the Thwaites Glacier a concern? Why do you want to determine the origin of its decline? Answers with Lydie Lissamontier, glaciologist and Director of Antarctic Action at the French-language NGO International Cryosphere and Climate Initiative (ICCI).

Science, QED


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