An international team of scientists has reached the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica and is preparing to drill through more than half a kilometre of ice into the dark waters beneath. The 600-metre deep borehole will allow researchers to lower down a torpedo-shaped robotic submarine that will explore the underside of the ice shelf to better understand why it is melting so fast. Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible. Thwaites glacier, which is part of the west Antarctic ice sheet, has lost an estimated 540bn tonnes of ice since the 1980s. But recent measurements show that the melting of the glacier is speeding up, sending even more ice into the Amundsen Sea. Thwaites glacier is already responsible for about 4% of the global sea level rise, as the ice slips off the land and into the sea. But because the ice shelf is melting and thinning, the glacier is speeding up. Thwaites itself contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by more than 2 feet (61cm), but it holds back other inland glaciers that contain far more ice, enough to raise global sea levels by more than 2 metres.
Guardian 28th Dec 2019 read more »