Antarctic Glaciers Are Growing Unstable Above and Below Water

from Wired

For several years, scientists have been worried about the retreat and eventual collapse of Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized plug that holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet from the Southern Ocean. If Thwaites goes kaput, the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers, according to NASA estimates.

That fear has driven a big push by international teams of researchers to understand what’s going on at Thwaites and nearby Pine Island Glacier. A group of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom took advantage of an unusually calm period in Antarctica in January 2019 to explore the two glaciers and the ocean nearby with ships, unmanned submarines, and aircraft to find out what’s happening to the ice and how fast. The initial scientific fruits of this expedition, part of a five-year $50 million effort called the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, are now being published, and the results are worrying. Researchers operating special ship-mounted sonar gear found a series of 25-mile-wide channels in the seafloor that bring warm water to the base of the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers. When this warm flow meets the place where the glaciers rest on top of the edge of the Antarctic continent—known as the grounding line—the ice underneath the glacier melts and the whole glacier becomes more slippery. Think of an ice cube sliding across the counter on its own meltwater.

Marine geophysicist Kelly Hogan of the British Antarctic Survey mapped the seafloor in front of the glaciers. For two months in the winter of 2019, Hogan was part of a joint US-UK expedition to the region, a trip that began at Punta Arenas, Chile. After a five-day crossing to Antarctica on the US research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, Hogan arrived at the Thwaites study site and found herself staring at a massive wall of ice. “We approached Thwaites at night,” Hogan recalls. “It was dark and foggy. I went to the bridge to talk to the captain, and as we were talking this 25-meter cliff emerged out of the gloom.”

More here.

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  1. The issue of global warming in the regions that have these massive glaciers has been an issue for along time now. Although a lot of Americans drive cars and do other activities to cause this type of global warming, some do not realize or care that it could create problems in the future regarding these massive glaciers in the Arctic. Although the glaciers are not going to break now, the point of the situation is that they will eventually break and cause large problems. Even though the glaciers breaking might not be in a while, the issue should still be researched by this generation to slow the process of this glacier catastrophe. This is what a lot of scientists are trying to do and while they are trying to do this, there are still things happening that are causing global warming.

    The result of the warming of the Arctic would be for the glacier to melt too much where it cracks and as a result one event that would happen would be that the ocean would rise a couple inches. Even though it is not known what could happen exactly, there are definitely negative effects of this happening. Not only would the water rise, it could potentially harm the wildlife near and around the location and in the Arctic. It is interesting that even though the scientists have created models they still do not know exactly what is going to happen and when. This just shows how large this glacier is and how the breaking of the glacier is very unpredictable. The events after this happens are potentially very dangerous and this is why people far away from the Arctic should take it seriously as well.

    If people do not make a change to help the melting of the Arctic it could have catastrophic effects to this world and the people that live in it. even though the scientists do not exactly know what will happen, they know if can not be good. This is why it is important to start thinking about the environment through out the world.

  2. Global warming has been an ongoing issue for many decades, dating back to the 1950s, however, people are only becoming more environmentally aware very recently. Carbon emissions from daily activities in developed countries as well as industries that manufacture commodities have significantly affected the global climate. One of the many consequences that are derived from the lack of environmental awareness is the melting of glaciers in both the north and south poles. The melting of the glaciers will eventually result in rising sea levels, which, although the most that the sea levels are predicted by scientists to rise is one to two feet, the change has the potential to drastically effect communities that are located closer to the ocean. Just one foot of increased sea level may result in mass flooding which will affect the lives of many people. Not only are the lives of people affected, but changes will occur in wildlife and geography.

    It is interesting how unpredictable the changes will be in relation to the melting of the glaciers. Although scientists studying the melting glaciers have studies, models, and research conducted, it still does not provide the scientists with an exact answer. There may have been overlooked variables in regards to the speed of the melting or the amount of water in which the sea level will potentially rise. Ultimately, there is no definitive answer to how long humanity has to slow down the consequences of climate change.

    Too long and too often, people have put aside the issue of climate change. Believing that it has no impact on themselves as an individual, they do not see the importance. However, the issue effects future generations and the longevity of the human race. If people decide not to do anything about the inevitably changing environment, the environment that was once a home and that provided people with means to live will eventually become inhospitable.

  3. What happens when global sea levels rise? When the sea levels rise along the shore line it increases the chances of tsunamis or giant tidal waves that could damage property and kill humans. Scientists got a chance to visit Antarctica, when I read this I was definitely surprised. I was surprised due to the fact that I constantly forget that Antarctica is a continent that people really visit. Also the fact that when warm current underflows the glacier, the top layer melts like ice melting, really makes me understand how bad global warming is getting. I have started to question if there is anything we can even do at this point to stop the increased temperatures in the atmosphere. I remember watching a documentary series on YouTube where they interviewed an energy engineer, who basically is famous for making a chart that maps where the energy that the U.S produces, goes. He found that the U.S is the second largest burner of fossil fuels. This means that we are one of the main reasons why these glaciers are melting. The only way we can fix this is if we stop now, these scientists can see the damage that we have caused so now with this knowledge we should convert to more ecofriendly reusable energy sources. The Earth already provides us with everything we need to survive, we do not need to support these industries that rely on extreme pollution to profit. I wonder if this years presidential election will effect anything or if it wont.

  4. Global warming is a serious problem that has been around for a while in the regions that have these massive glaciers. Americans everyday activities are what cause these problems for global warming and they do not realize the effect of the things that they do. As time has went on, people have become more physically aware of the environment around them. As the article states, when citizens are not aware of what is going on in the environment and the harm of their actions is what causes the melting of the glaciers. Melting of the glaciers is one serious issue but the consequences of the glaciers melting are rising sea levels which effects the cities and people that live near the oceans where the sea levels are rising.
    The model that scientists created was not made to predict the date that it will collapse but rather to just show how much it is being harmed. There are many factors that are causing the collapse that are not being accounted for so it is nearly impossible to know exactly when the collapse will occur which is why it is important for people to change now. Becoming more environmentally aware will result in change causing better circumstances for the glaciers and sea levels.
    I find this article to be very interesting because while they say they do not think that the glaciers will fail within in the next ten years, the way that they are melting is very unpredictable. No one knows the changes that will occur to the environment and the world in general if these glaciers were to fail at any time. The difficulty is trying to predict the ice and the movements that it has because ice is not only a solid, but also acts as a liquid when it melts so its movements are sudden and quick. In simpler terms, these glaciers need to be watched at all times so we can react quickly and be ready for whatever occurs. What will happen when or if they eventually do collapse? If no one wants to know the answer to this question then we must change. We must make a change in our everyday lives and before we do something we must think about the effect that it will have on the environment rather than just ourselves. If people choose to put themselves before the world that they live in then anything that occurs, including the glaciers failing and sea levels rising, would be entirely their fault. It is in the people’s hands so we must continue to do the right things.

  5. Global warming has been a present issue for the world prominently since the 1970’s where global temperatures began to rise due to human activity. One of the greater concerns of global warming is regions containing glaciers, such as the Thwaites Glacier, the size of Florida, that could potentially raise global sea levels between two to eight feet. What this means is that, raised sea levels could affect costal and inland habitats. Example consist of devastating erosion, severe flooding, soil contamination, no habitat for sea animals or birds, and the loss of crops/the ability to plant an grow them. This amount of destruction that can be caused from the reality of the glaciers will somewhat become inevitable, whether it is during our time or after.

    The fear of this occurring drove international researchers to do an extensive research about the Thwaites Glacier. What the scientists found were 25 mile wide channels that brought in warm sea water under the glaciers, causing them to melt at an extensive rate. In another study, scientists went back to Antarctica to find a huge seafloor channel moving warm water to the base of glaciers. This is only increasing the melting process of the glaciers. Scientists said that these glaciers will not melt during this century because they are too big, however they will eventually. The ice sheets are getting weaker and this means the glaciers can flow easily, discharging their ice into the ocean.

    It is up to us to make an environmental change that will help save the world. While it seems extravagant, it is not impossible. Whatever damage is done is done, but there is so much more that we can prevent from happening if we take the right precautions. Some things we can do to prevent further damage to the Earth are use renewable energy, weatherize (making a house resistant to cold whether with insulation/storm windows), reduce the amount of water you are wasting, do not leave lights on or plugs in when they are not needed and so much more. All these simple tasks will help save our planet little by little. Living on this planet, it makes us responsible for the way we treat it, and we can make that change that will allow us to save it.

  6. Global warming has been an issue for as long as I can remember. We have learned about global warming our whole lives and it just keeps getting worse as the years go on. We have been told that the poles and the ice caps are melting and the consequences of this can be catastrophic. Reading this article was very interesting. I don’t know how often people can visit Antarctica but these scientists getting to study the glaciers is pretty cool. It is also amazing to me how much data the scientists were able to gather on their trip. Finding the 25 mile wide channels that bring warm water to the base of the glacier is a big discovery. Although it does not sound like there is much people can do to stop it. The channels are going to continue to bring warm water to the base of the glacier causing the ice to melt faster. It seems like the only way to help slow climate change down is to reduce carbon emissions worldwide.

    In the article scientists say that when the Thwaites glacier falls apart it could raise sea levels by more than 2 feet by itself. That would obviously have very big implications on our society. To slow this down, companies need to band together to promise to reduce carbon emissions. Big manufacturers and companies across the globe need to understand how serious of a problem this is. If nothing changes soon then our actions may be irreversible as the scientists say in the article. While scientists can not predict when the glaciers will exactly melt or fall apart they can give a rough time estimate. That time estimate keeps getting closer and closer the longer we wait to do something as a nation or as a world. We need to act soon before it is too late and I hope we do.

  7. The title of this article stuck out to me among the others as global warming and rising sea levels is a serious problem that faces humanity today. With billions of cars on the roads and factories and machines that all release pollutants and greenhouse gasses into the air climate change is a massive and still growing issue. Greenhouse gasses destroy the ozone layer and trap ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere which cause increases in overall temperatures around the world. The effects of global warming appear different based on where in the world you are looking and sending and expedition to Antarctica to see what is going on there was an incredible idea. Very little of Antarctica being inhabited by people due to the extreme altitude, cold, wind, and ice there is little known of what goes on there. The continent is composed vastly of ice and riddled with glaciers and cold waters. One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica, Thwaites Glacier, is “Florida-sized” glacier that holds back most of the Southern Ocean from the west of Antarctica. To observe this glacier an expedition was sent to the base of it during which they analyzed many aspects of the ocean surrounding the glacier. Using sonar imaging they observed the floor surrounding the glacier and made many interesting discoveries. They discovered huge channels of warm water that are being rushed to the base of the Thwaites which is slowly eroding the glacier. This causes the glacier to slowly melt which will gradually raise the sea levels over the years but if the problem is not corrected the glacier will eventually lose stability and plummet into the water. This could raise sea level 2-8 feet depending on the scope of the destruction from the collapse of Thwaites. This rise in sea level will then cause tsunamis, land erosion, and property damage near shorelines. The damage cause by this would be extremely costly, not only in terms of money but lives lost as well. Global warming and climate change are very pressing matters for people to figure out because if we do not determine how to reverse global warming its frightening effects mass disarray and possibly the end of the world could be inevitable. According to the Colossal Climate Clock in New York City, we have les than seven and a half years to figure out how to reverse the effects of global warming before they become irreversible. We are running out of time and thus climate change a global warming is a very important issue to try and tackle.

  8. Global warming has been a debated topic of discussion for years and now a bigger worry when it comes to ice glaciers. When it comes to the rising of sea levels globally, scientists pay close attention to make sure that nothing causes this problem. If this were to happen, more tidal waves and even tsunamis will occur, damaging towns and even killing humans. On top of everything that has happened so far this year, we definitely do not need another reason to call for a global crisis. The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration is an expedition group of scientists that have been looking at this problem and doing extensive research on the matter. This team was sent to explore the Thwaites and the pine island glaciers to see whether or not they were close to melting. In my opinion though, it has to be extremely hard to tell the condition of a ice glacier. You have to take into account how often the whether stays cold enough for the glacier to survive, as well as the amount of animals and sometimes ships knock into it. What these scientists found is extraordinary. The scientists used sonar imaging to help give a 3D map of the ocean floor around the ice glaciers. They found these channels of warm water pushing towards the bases of both ice glaciers, making them slowly melt. This is not good for the future of the ocean and for humans and wildlife. This will cause a huge spike in sea level because of all the extra water in the ice glaciers. Scientists say that the ice glaciers will not be completely melted in our lifetime, but we can still do things as inhabitants of the Earth to prevent it. We can help prevent global warming by using renewable energy to power our homes and not wasting water. Each step we take can ensure the safety of our future generations and keep the melting of the ice glaciers at bay.

  9. This article is a great example of how real global warming is. Although we have been warned about the effects of global warming this issue still needs to be addressed. Not only does it need to be addressed, but it needs to be addressed before the damages from global warming are irreversible. One thing stated in the article that was especially frightening was the study done by Lhermitte on the Thwaites and Pine Glaciers. The study showed signs of fractures in the ice that will most likely result in disintegration in the future. This may not be a problem now, because the damage can be seen as minimal, but it is predicted that more damage will occur. The effects of global warming have become more prevalent in the recent year. The wild fires that have been occurring, the rise in sea levels, and the average temperature of earth rising each year and a few obvious effects we see are increasing and causing damage. Hopefully people start taking these damaging effects more seriously, so we can stop it before it is too late.

  10. Global warming has been an issue for decades now, and with modern technology and other polluting aspects of our daily lives, we are putting the earth in danger. I will admit I have been one of those people who did not take any second glance at these kinds of things because I figured I was not enough to make a difference. I felt like if everyone else did not change the world will be screwed anyway so why do I have to put in the extra effort it no one else is. I found that with me doing my part combined with a few of my friends and a few of their friends and so on, we can do our part. The article says if these icebergs melt, they can raise the sea level by up to 8 feet! To put this in a way that us Jersey residents can comprehend, most of our beloved shore towns would be underwater. For example, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Ocean City, Wildwood, and many more will be in feet of water. Becoming worse with the tides come in. One thing that people do not realize that is increasing global warming more than almost everything else is farming. It is not what you think about farming that is doing the worst. It is slightly comical but the third biggest factor in global warming behind carbon dioxide production with cars and power plants, and deforestation is, wait for it, cattle farts! This being any animal gathered in large amounts will produce large amounts of gas which then rises into the atmosphere. Also, the fertilizer they use also produces carbon dioxide. That is another reason people go vegan. This lowers the amount of meat needed therefore fewer animals to be herded and killed for meat. I see that most of the other people commenting on this article that the biggest thing we can do is spread the word. The more electric cars, the less deforestation and more environmentally friendly ways for energy will help stop the melting but there is little we can do to stop it completely. At least for now we cannot stop but there is no one saying that one day we cannot figure a way to stop it and possibly even restore some of the icebergs. Unfortunately, it will need immediate action from everyone. The impacts of these icebergs melting have worldwide consequences that can be catastrophic for many near the ocean and any body of water that flows from the ocean. Richard Alley a Penn State University professor of geosciences said, “You do NOT want your bridge to break, and you do not want to need to predict exactly the conditions that will make it break, so you design with a large safety margin.” This is a great thing to say because it is so true. Think about it this way, if you get someone angry and you think they might come to your house and vandalize it, what would you do? Would you rather spend all the money on cameras and possibly weapons to protect your property, or would you rather take the time and apologize to keep the worst-case scenario from happening in the first place. Would we rather create a safety net and fix the problem now, or wait to see what happens and then deal with the outcome no matter how bad it may be.

  11. Over the various years that I’ve started to pay attention to the news, the news cycle has had a curious pattern of coverage concerning the environment and other eco-friendly topics. This phenomenon is that coverage is split into two factions, which sounds like any controversial topic, except I am of the belief that this climate debate has no reason being a controversy or debate at all. This may spit in the notion of a fair and honest conversation, but I think that whenever science fact is combined with the conclusions of respected scientists on a scientific issue, we as a society should respect that consensus unless it gets contradicted by further research or testing. That is why reading this article was rather annoying for me, as I believe that these massive chunks of ice could have remained together and not slush if people could actually take effective action against major pollutants and temperature raisers in our society. Unfortunately, many in America especially view scientific fact as “the elite forcing their agendas” on the normal populace. Whether that is due to poor education, which is my theory, or due to social media propagating conspiracies like this, which is another theory, is irrelevant. This planet is a shared space with not just humans, but all sorts of plants and animals as well. Selfish behaviors such as ignoring long term problems for short term gain is a sure fire way to sinking everyone else. But this topic irritated me so much that I decided to become more informed on the subject, just to know exactly how mad I should be. And when I looked into it, my decision to be steamed about it was entirely correct. The United States had a chance to still be a part of an agreement called the Paris Agreement, which was a decision reached within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to attempt to lower emissions world wide. However, this meant that to follow the guidelines outlined in this agreement, the United States would have had to keep emissions low by taking real actions, and this country under its new president hates to ever get off its ass to do anything nowadays. So, with this attitude, the United States under Donald Trump pulled out of this agreement, citing it as unfair to Americans. With that attitude, the world will never be able to pull itself out of the proverbial gutter. If the world is how millionaire president Donald Trump, certainly a member of the elite, says that we should avoid science and fact in favor of his selfish desires, I am not going to follow along blindly to his tune. We as nations should stand united against the threat of those selfish enough to stand in our way, and come together to actually solve this apocalyptic problem.

  12. In January 2019, U.S. and U.K. researchers headed to Antarctica with ships, unmanned submarines, and aircraft to explore two glaciers, the Thwaites, and Pine Island glaciers. This scientific expedition was part of a five year, 50-million-dollar effort called the “International Thwaites Glacier collaboration.” Concerned about the growing unstable glaciers and the catastrophic consequence that would occur if the Thwaites glacier should collapse. Based on the estimates of NASA, “the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than 2 feet on its own or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers.” The international researchers were pushed by fear to understand why these glaciers were melting at such a fast rate. Sonar equipment revealed a 25-mile-wide channel in the sea floor that transported warm water to the base of the two glaciers. The warm water underneath the glaciers is causing them to melt at an unnatural speed. The researchers utilized an aircraft with ground penetrating radar to look through the ice where they were able to develop a new map of the glacier and sea floor shape as well as measure gravitational changes. The new shape of the sea floor revealed deep pathways that allowed warm water to travel across the continental shelf and melt the glaciers beneath the surface. Scientists estimated that the glaciers will not collapse within the next century, but the increased melting is causing the rise of sea levels across the global. In a separate study by Dutch, French, and U.S. scientists, they used satellite imagery to reveal structural weaknesses, cervices, and open fractures in the ice shelves. These results are significant because they depict a positive feedback loop that triggers more damage and faster moving ice flows. To prevent an environmental catastrophe, the Antarctic glaciers will need to be studied and watched in the coming years for rapid changes that can have large consequences with the rising sea level. It is still important for scientists to study and learn how glaciers are fractured because it will give us insight on when the glaciers might collapse and how to slow down the process. In the end, the good news is that the glaciers will not collapse in our lifetime, however the bad news is not if, but when will be the tipping point of these glaciers.

  13. Global warming has been a concern for many years, but there are countries who are not trying to reduce their carbon emissions. There are people who do not believe in global warming, but they do feel that fall and winter are not getting as cold as they used to. The rise in sea level can affect many cities, like Venice Italy, where already they have been hit hard with heavy rain in the past that flooded many houses and businesses. New York City can also be in danger of rising sea water because most of Manhattan is surrounded by water. Many people do not realize that the rise in sea level can affect all of us in some way or another.

    I have recently seen a video going viral, where there are two people climbing a glacier. While the two people were climbing the glacier, it started to turn and those people fell into the water and luckily they were quickly recused. While watching this video, one can realize that the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. The glacier that those two people were climbing was already in the process of melting and it was no longer strong enough to hold to climbers. Normally, glaciers are made of thick ice and they should be massive and strong enough to hold two climbers.

    In the article, they talk about the Thwaites Glacier, which is a “Florida-sized plug” which basically keeps the warm water from coming into the cold Antarctic water. The article talks about the Thwaites Glacier melting, warm water is starting to travel through melting all other glaciers surrounding the glacier. If the thwaites glacier melts then it can rise sea level by two feet, which is a lot. Since the early 1900, glaciers in the arctic have been melting rapidly and by 2100 there could be no more glaciers felt. People need to get out and vote for politicians who care about global warming and that have a plan to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet before it is too late.

  14. Global warming, a huge problem that we have been battling for a huge time now. Global warming is when carbon dioxide meets air pollution and that causes green house gases to be released because of people burning fossil fuels. Sometimes we feel global warming, for example there have been days in the winter that aren’t really that cold and we would come out in a hoodie. that is not usual because you usually would dress up and be warm in the winter instead of the sun being out and it being hot. Also we got a snow day I think in early October last year and that isn’t as expected because in October were preparing for the cold winds and cold winters, and getting snow is not what we expect. Melting of glaziers is not what we want. Glaziers are a big huge strong piece of ice that would be on the water or holding itself up, when glaziers melt all the animals that live in glazier type areas, won’t have anywhere to stay ” on land” due to them going away and melting. The whole reason that were in a huge problem about global warming is because nobody really cares about the earth. There is so much pollution and so much gases in the air, garbage in the sea that cause animals to die and we just won’t ever learn from it until something bad happens to us. We breathe in the air that we pollute and it is not safe and healthy at all. We shouldn’t have to be at a very low time due to our reasoning of not taking care of the world. Some think throwing garbage in the sea doesn’t affect us, but it affect the animals that are swimming because they can die if they swallow a bottle cap or a snack wrapping. We have to change we do things because if we don’t take care of our planet we won’t have anything nice left in this world, and we would want to change the global warming problem.

  15. Increasing carbon emissions, global temperatures rising, glaciers melting, sea-level rising, these are all issues we have heard discussed time and time again. The concepts have become a staple of everyday conversation, and ones that we as society frankly do not take seriously enough. Whether it be a sense of hopelessness regarding reversing the effects, a lack of concern for future generations, or an outright, and laughable, denial of the concept of global warming, there appears to be some reason that society is no longer as concerned with these issues as a whole. Regardless of which of these reasons, Niiler has brought to light a shocking, and utterly terrifying, reality that we as a society should really be paying attention to.

    The Thwaites Glacier is a mass of ice that I honestly did not have in-depth knowledge of, but one that I, along with everyone else, should. The possibility of the Western Antarctic ice sheet being released to gain access to the Southern Ocean and raising sea-level by a whopping two feet is a possibility that we should all be aware of, and frankly, fear. This scary possibility could potentially quadruple when combined with other melting glaciers, which society should definitely begin to focus on avoiding. The research discussed in the article reveals that the large glaciers appear to be too massive to fully melt or crumble anytime soon, so society can breathe a sigh of relief, for now. Although the ice sheets are stable for now, general melting of ice caused by increasing global temperatures is still causing sea-level to rise slowly. Niiler points out that this damage can be reversed, and future damage can be avoided, both by reducing the annual carbon emissions produced by humans.
    Science continues to point out how we as a society can reduce our average carbon footprint, yet we fail to decrease average carbon emissions to the levels needed to revert the effects on our climate. That begs the question: with the information on how and why we should reduce carbon emissions handed to us on a silver platter, why have we as a society not done so? I believe it boils down to the points I brought up previously. I personally have fallen into the category of those who feel as though all hope has been lost, and therefore there is no reason to try to turn things around. However, the article revealed that not all hope has been lost, and therefore, we should come together to regain hope and do our part. For those who do not concern themselves with the effects of climate change due to simply not caring about the well-being of future generations, it becomes more of a moral dilemma. Those who feel that way need to drop their selfish beliefs and lifestyle, and work toward bettering themselves for the sake of the planet. Lastly, those who choose to deny science, and thus deny climate change, have the most change to undergo. Whether it be political alignment, or just downright ignorance to reality fogging their mind, these individuals have a lot to educate themselves on. Along with them, the rest of us have a lot of work to do to save our planet.

  16. All over the world are chances to improve what we do as a collective species. Not every chance is duplicated, not every mistake is forgiven. Global warming and climate issues aside, the Thwaites Glacier is getting weaker, along with many others. For many years, the reduction of mass in glaciers has been recorded in both the North and South pole. What Eric Niiler initially started to focus on in this article was the underwater “channels in the seafloor that bring warm water to the base of the Thwaites”. This to me sounds natural, for the most part, where the earth’s crust just opened up and allows for warmer water to seep through. This melting then damages the glacier and surrounding glaciers at an exponential rate. So why did Niiler switch over to climate change and global warming so abruptly? Wouldn’t the warm channels eventually be there anyway?
    I personally would have liked to see some explanation and correlation as to what global warming and climate change have to do with this channel melting the glaciers from underneath. My idea, and it is a very simple idea, is that global warming due to carbon emissions is a real thing and affects the planet negatively, to an extent. This glacier melting from underneath is partially related to the phenomenon that is global warming—it is more a side effect of a side effect. My take is that global warming and whatnot melts surrounding glaciers from above and aside (the trapped warming of air in the atmosphere and ocean temperatures rising). The initial melting here is simply a side effect. From here, though, the channels are more exposed, allowing for there to be a more free-flowing channel below. This channel being allowed to flow at a higher rate is a side effect of the glaciers melting and receding. So in short, the channel’s exposure is not directly due to global warmer, it is indirect, nevertheless a negative outcome.
    Legally, there may be solutions that could come about to prevent most side effects of global warming (whereas right now we are still causing major issues). Niiler does not mention any legality or laws within his article; it does seem to be hard to think of a law that would protect the earth and be good for humans. Laws that would banish carbon emitting machinery would do great for the earth, but hurt humans all the while. Again, these are only my takes on the matter and I am without evidence, except conceptual visualization. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but given what research the author has done, I wish there was more explanation and bridge between the channel and global warming. This topic is very interesting and imperative to learn about for the future of the planet—regulating human action may bring out change to prevent any further damage brought about to the earth.

  17. It’s very concerning that global warming is still being debated. Yes, it’s natural that the earth heats and cools on its own, however due to human activities these cycles are occurring rapidly. When the ice age it, scientists estimate that it “has taken about 5,000 years for the planet to warm between 4 and 7 degrees celsius. The warming of the past century- 0.7 degrees celsius- is roughly ten times faster than the ice-age recovery warming on average” ( NASA).
    This article is just an example of how real global warming is. If the Thwaites Glacier melts, it could “raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers” (Niller). Rising sea levels are a serious concern. Rising sea levels can affect those that live near the shores across the globe. High sea level plays a role in tidal effects, flooding, shoreline erosion, and it could potentially contaminate streams, ponds, and lakes. If the sea levels continue to rise in the way that they are currently doing so, it’s just a matter of time before certain islands and land masses submerge completely under water.
    In order to prevent or reverse some of the effects, we need to do more. It’s up to us to make the change. I know I am personally reducing my carbon footprint. I do the daily things that I was taught growing up. I use reusable water jugs, I turn off the water when I am brushing my teeth, I recycle etc. I have even changed my diet. I am vegetarian, although I do incorporate vegan meals into my diet. However, this is not enough. Under Corporate Social responsibility, Companies should reduce carbon emissions. More companies should invest in renewable energies. Not to mention, we should be focusing on more energy efficient cars. Maybe 10 years or so ago, I saw a documentary about the production of electric cars with my grandfather, however the company decided to pull the plug. I could only imagine what could have been if these cars had been on the road for all this time.

    Works Cited:
    “Global Warming.” NASA, NASA,

  18. When I first say the title, I was concerned. Not because this is a shock to anyone, but because it is happening as we speak. Global warming is something everyone has heard about, yet many forget it isn’t in the distant future, its now. To really think about how serious and life changing this may be look at the first few sentences. “raise global sea levels by more than 2 feet” “8 feet in with melting ice”?!?!?! That would put so many places on the Jersey shore I love to visit underwater. So many homes ruined, lives changed, and that’s just one section. Just my own experience and situation. What about the rest of the world? This is really serious.
    The warm flow of water that is causing the glaciers to melt below the water is something new to me. I’ve heard about raising air temperatures and the sun getting stronger, but not the underwater current. I wonder if they are going to find out why the water underneath is warming up too. Could it be related to the raising sea temperatures? Increased hurricanes which are caused by warm water, and stirring the ocean up. Maybe that water is now impacting the artic areas. It also could be out of our control. Maybe tectonic plates are shifting and creating warm spots. Underwater volcanos. I am completely guessing as to what can be causing it. Hopefully these scientists can continue to do research and continue to figure out what is going on to help to save the planet.

  19. Global warming has been an issue plaguing the world for years. It has also been denied for years. Today, it is impossible to ignore the climate crisis. Small actions that are heavily incorporated into society, like driving a car or using hairspray, is leaving long lasting, irreversible damages to the planet. One major effect of global warming is the melting of glaciers. If the Thwaites Glacier collapses, as it is expected to, sea levels can rise up to eight feet. The 25 mile wide channels that bring warm water to the glaciers are very concerning, as this leads to the consistent melting of the glaciers.

    The Thwaites Glacier is not expected to collapse within the next century due to its massive size. However, this is not an issue that should be addressed in the next century. It is imperative that it is studied and dealt with now, as the glaciers are already starting to melt. Sea levels are still rising slowly. There is no known definitive moment when the speed of the melting glacier will reach an irreversible point, so it must be dealt with now.

    As the ice shelf weakens there is a higher chance of the glaciers discharging their ice into the ocean. There is no way of determining at the moment when the glaciers will completely melt because the rate of climate change is very inconsistent. While scientists are studying the level the sea is rising, it is not up to just them to fix the issue.

    The world needs to become more aware of the melting glaciers. There must be big environmental shifts in order to prevent the collapse of glaciers like the Thwaites Glacier. If everyone ignores the issues and leaves it to scientists to solve, the outcome will be grim. Shifts in everyday life can let the world last centuries longer than what is predicted.

  20. Global warming is a very serious issue. So many of our world’s problems today are caused by global warming. Because of this, many different animals and even people are losing their natural habitats. This is a very serious problem because so many things can go wrong. For example, if the glaciers do eventually melt, sea levels are expected to rise. This is extremely bad because the animals and people are going to lose their homes. Not only will the sea levels rise in the arctic, it will also put other cities underwater. This will leave more people without a home. Earth will significantly shrink and the population will also begin to decline.

  21. Global warming has been an issue for many years now. This issue has been caused by mankind polluting the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and the effects have been devastating to the planet. One of the effects is that channels in the ocean floor have opened up beneath glaciers and warm water is running under them. The article focuses on one glacier in particular called the Thwaites Glacier which is the size of the state of Florida. This glacier holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet from the ocean. If the West Antarctic sheet ice is exposed to the ocean in could raise the sea level by two feet on its own.
    Glaciers are melting because they are being exposed to warmer water from the channels created by global warming. The warmer water raises the temperature of the glacier to a point where it starts to begin melting which is currently happening to the Thwaites Glacier. Unfortunately, this is not the only glacier that is suffering this effect. The glaciers surrounding the Thwaites are also enduring the same situation and if all melt scientists believe they could raise the sea level by eight feet together. This will affect all towns and cities on the coasts because many homes and businesses are subject to flooding already. The issues that would arise from the glaciers melting are not limited to mankind; animals would also suffer from mankind’s actions. Polar bears are the prime example of this with the surface of the land they use literally shrinking underneath them.
    Mankind is responsible for these effects through their use of fossil fuels and pollution. However, mankind refuses to stop killing the planet because it is very economical. It is much more costly and inconvenient to drive an electric car when compared to a normal petrol-powered car. In business it is also much more expensive to get rid of waste in an ecological way as opposed to disposing of it in an environmentally friendly way. Politicians argue about proven science with one side saying something must be done about it now, and the other side dismisses the science stating that it is natural and will correct itself. Although many people are taking matters into their own hands and trying to reduce their carbon footprint by driving more eco-friendly cars, reusing and recycling plastic, and many other methods of eco-friendly alternatives.

  22. Global warming is an ongoing threat that we should all be concerned about. Just from reading this article its scary to see that the global ocean level may rise two to eight feet. This is a huge concern because this would result in catastrophic damage. I believe this issue of global warming and glaciers melting needs to be taken a lot more seriously before it’s too late. The warming of the earth is caused by burning fossil fuels and if we continue at the rate we are going now, then the situation is just going to get worse. This article discusses the Thwaites Glacier and how it is melting due to warm water is running through the channels in the ocean floors. Once this water rises and reaches the surface, “the ice underneath the glacier melts and the whole glacier becomes more slippery”. This is a huge issue because this glacier is the size of Florida. If this melts completely than we will all be in danger. This would create flooding around the world and businesses and houses along the coast would be done for.

    It is due to mankind that these issues continue to get worse and worse. There does not seem to be much focus on the issue at hand. With all of these companies trying to go electric and be energy efficient, it still is not enough to stop what’s happening. Another reason why this issue is overlooked is because climate change has become political. There are people who do not believe in it and some that do. With this being said, people have taken the matter into their own hands and try to live a more eco friendly life. Whether this be by reducing carbon footprint, using energy efficient appliances, driving electric cars, or by recycling, it will take a cumulative effort to help slow and eradicate this ongoing issue.

  23. People act surprised when they hear about global warming statistics, but then go on within their daily lives doing activities to expedite the process. This statement was chilling to me, “If Thwaites goes kaput, the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers, according to NASA estimates.” If we see an increase of water levels by eight feet people will have to move out of shore houses because the water will rise into their back yard. I am currently only 15 feet above sea level at my current place of residence so hearing this fact scares me.
    People drive their big V8 trucks or sports cars, and as fun and amazing as those pieces of art are, they are horrible for the environment as they have a large displacement meaning they suck in more air and create more emissions and use more fuels. IE NOT GOOD.
    As the glaciers continue to melt we will see the loss of arctic wildlife like polar bears or caribou and that is not good either. Mankind is the reason this is happening and we need to begin advocating for it before it gets completely out of hand. I found in the New York Times that we have roughly 7:103:15:40:07 according to the brand new “Earth Deadline” clock in NYC to show we have that much time before the damage human kind has caused in global warming will be completely irreversible after that time and that is chilling.
    Glacial channels have opened up now and they are being exposed to hotter deeper sea water and this will only expedite the process further. We need to continue to become more green as a planet. This means better recycling habits, less littering and better emissions standards for cars so that we don’t completely break open the ozone layer of our atmosphere leading to damaging UV rays being let into our atmosphere. Then after that the UV rays are trapped within the atmosphere and they cause the greenhouse effect. This meaning that greenhouse gasses trap these rays close to the ground, in turn, cooking the Earth until its core temperature reaches levels that are unlivable by human standards, and then that’s it. The human race could be deemed to end within the next 7 years and I think that is truly horrifying.

  24. Global warming has been a prominent issue since the 1970’s, yet for some reason there have been few strides made in order to save our planet. For years now, scientists have been concerned about the increasing temperature of the planet, and this is just one reason why. If Thwaites, a glacier the size of Florida melts, the sea level will rise significantly. This will cause major damage and danger to many humans and animals within a large range.
    It almost seems like it is too late to change the inevitable. Researchers say that although Thwaites is not ready to fall yet, is there even anything we can do in the next few years to restore the temperature and ensure that this glacier, among others, will not fall. The solution is simply enough, just extremely hard to execute. Fossil fuel use mist be eliminated, and greenhouse gas emissions must be stopped. Three fossil fuels, petroleum, natural gas, and coal have provided more than 80% of U.S. energy consumption for over 100 years. The U.S. also uses the second most fossil fuels in the world, trailing China by a rather wide margin. Either way, the use of these fossil fuels must be cut dramatically and as soon as possible. The alternatives, wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy are ready to be implemented and help save the planet, is it up to the people to be ready to make the changes and sacrifice little in order to save the planet. If we do not make these changes, the average temperature of the planet can rise from a cool 58 degrees to a sweltering 80 degrees. Needless to say, this would have catastrophic consequences for the world.
    It is unfortunate that everything needs to be turned into a political issue, but this is something that has been turned into one. One man should have little influence over the ideas and opinions of people, especially because there is ample evidence from many scientists, but our president has convinced many people that climate change is not an issue. For whatever reason, he is playing a game and convincing so many people that the world is just fine. Maybe this is another one of his downplaying ploys like he did with the virus. He successfully downplayed the virus and hundreds of thousands of people died. It is up to the people to do their own research and form their own opinion rather than believe Trump simply because it was cold in the East one winter.

  25. Global warming is a prevalent issue that is continuing to get more and more important as time goes by. The environmental awareness we have as not only a country, but a world, is way lower than it should be, and that is the root of this problem. A huge issue that is affected by the lack of environmental awareness is the melting of glaciers across the northern and southern hemisphere. So, the problem in this passage is the glacier the Thwaites Glacier, a plug that holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet from the Southern Ocean. If this glacier were to shift enough, “the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers, according to NASA estimates.” That is such a drastic event that could ultimately affect millions of people and their homes. I personally have had my house flooded, and it is so awful, and I would not want anyone to go through that. The flood I went through, the water was about 3 feet high and only affected the bottom floor of my house. Now imagine eight feet of water. That would take out whole houses and affect many lives. Also, most people will not be able to afford taking a hit like this and would end up being life changing. Now, what is the problem with this glacier? Well as it states, “Researchers operating special ship-mounted sonar gear found a series of 25-mile-wide channels in the seafloor that bring warm water to the base of the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers.” This 25-mile-wide channel is slowly melting, which could cause the shift of this huge glacier and be threatening to millions.
    Unfortunately, issues like this are very unpredictable, and no one knows for sure what will eventually happen, but if we can do what is best, we will have a better chance of preventing it. The only way to prevent things like this is by being environmental conscious of everything around us. Although some of these issues might not individually influence you, it will affect the bigger picture and many other people other than yourself.

  26. Global warming has been a topic that has been in the media cycle somewhat recently, and this adds another level. Global warning is a very serious issue that needs to be acted on, yet people still think it is fake. I hope this is a rude awakening to those who doubt it. There is a glacier about the size of Florida that is melting, and if the Thwaites melts, we are in trouble. Nasa predicts that the global sea levels could rise anywhere from 2 to 8 feet. I was somewhat shocked when I first saw 2-8 feet because that there is a great difference between 2 and 8 feet of water. The melting comes from underwater channels that are about 25 miles wide, and the channels carry warm water from the seafloor all the way up to the base of the Thwaites. If the Thwaites were to completely melt, there would be huge economic decline in just about every coastal area, there would be mass flooding, destruction to land, and lastly it would threaten the lives of millions around the world. Hopefully, we do not reach that point. We must change how we handle emissions, fossil fuels, water pollution, etc. We have to do our civil right and vote for the people who will hopefully help our country reduce our pollution and help save the Thwaites. Something else that was fascinating to me was the technology used by the scientists. The scientists used a multibeam echosounder that was mounted under the ship to collect sonar images. The sonar images were used to create a 3D map. The scientists also were able to use unmanned submarines and aircraft. The scientists were able to use this technology as part of a five-year $50 million effort called the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. Even with all the technology, there is still so much that is unknown about the artic glaciers. They still do not know how long exactly it will be until Thwaites melts. However, in A 2014 study published in the journal Science by University of Washington scientists used satellite data and numerical modeling to predict that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, including Thwaites, may collapse in 200 to 1,000 years.

  27. We see it in the news everyday: catastrophic wildfires, extreme drought, wildly powerful hurricanes, rising sea levels. Nearly every environmental disaster imaginable has presented itself in recent years with no end in sight. Though this article highlights the specific dangers of the eventual collapse of Thwaites Glacier, it also prompts discussion of climate change on a larger scale. The entire world is feeling the devastation of climate change, yet it feels as though no drastic action is being taken. Though gradual changes have been introduced in some nations, the world must work cohesively to save our planet for the generations of both humans and wildlife to come.

    Often times, we hear an age-old argument pitting environmental protection and big business against one another. This is disheartening to hear, as cooperation from all is necessary to save our planet. In regard to prioritizing business over combating climate change, political sway oftentimes dictates various countries and their positions of action. This is especially the case within the United States. According to a New York Times article titled, “The Trump Administration is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List” by Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis, the Trump Administration has officially reversed 70 laws and regulations with an additional 30 in progress. These rollbacks were justified by citing that they are, “unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses.” If we do not take drastic measures to prioritize the health of our planet, there will be no businesses left to save. Much of this is undoing of environmental protection measures that previous administrations put in place, causing a vicious cycle of inaction and leaving an unequipped nation to face the reality of climate change. Many of these rollbacks have been spearheaded by the EPA, an agency run by political appointees of the Trump Administration. I often wonder if it is entirely ethical to place political appointees in regulatory agencies: shouldn’t their loyalty should be to the environment?

    The findings of this study were quite alarming. With many signs of uncertainty and no idea when more consistent measures to reduce climate change will come, I am honestly worried. Instead of using deregulation to help big business cut environmental corners, businesses should work towards becoming more sustainable and earth conscious. I understand that this is easier said than done, but this is a necessary transition that the world must make in order to combat the damage we have already caused. I truly hope that the United States will commit to reducing its footprint and get on board with a cleaner greener way to conduct business and protect the Earth.

  28. As many commenters before me have already established, Eric Niiler’s article echoes the concern of scientists all over the globe who have the grim responsibility of recording and studying the negative impacts that people have had and continue to have on the environment. Unfortunately, it appears that the more scientists study and analyze the wider-reaching impacts of climate change, the more we discover irreversible damage in places that we never expected to be affected so significantly. Much the same way that increased Covid testing has led to increased reported numbers. Essentially, the effects were already widespread and in-progress, we simply had not recognized the magnitude and volume of effects that have continually spiderwebbed through the natural world. We’ve all seen the increased propensity and severity of wildfires in the media as well as flooding issues all over the world that have never been worse.

    Particularly of note in Niiler’s article is the discovery and study of the seabed channels which are feeding warmer seawater underneath the Thwaites glacier, naturally accelerating the melting process. This issue is exacerbated by the recorded rise in global sea temperatures. I think Lhermitte who was quoted in the article makes a great point that their study, while impactful, is not a device that can predict the failure of Thwaites with any degree of reliability because there are simply too many variables involved in the process. The same can be said for many of the other climate change issues which we face today. I think the estimate that was given of 200-1000 years is a great estimate but potentially harmful because of the misleading timeline it may give lawmakers. The more that scientists try to put estimates on catastrophic events happening the more lawmakers and lobbyists will use those same numbers to argue against the implementation of laws regulating environmental impact and pollution. One of the scientists briefly touches on this concept but I feel like it needs to be emphasized a lot more strongly that just because an event is scheduled for the future does not mean it can’t happen much sooner and become irreversible as a direct result of human inaction. If analysis results were more focused on the definitive current impacts that are tangible such as a certain portion of the glacier being damaged or decreasing in size (with the final estimate of destruction as a supporting finding) maybe those responsible for environmental reform would have more to work with when approaching the masses for funding.

    Additionally, I can’t help but think about the economic impacts on the ocean mode shipping industry in the next few decades. The first thing that comes to mind is the rise in ocean levels damaging and flooding current ports that are set up to deal with only the current ocean level. Even a few feet could create disastrous flooding in major ports all over the world and necessitate tens or hundreds of billions in renovation. The flat and level nature of most port areas that incorporate rail yards and loading areas for truck routes create a perfect disaster for rising sea levels. The many square miles of flat concrete and asphalt would either have to be raised in its entirety to accommodate higher water levels and protect the cargo storage and transportation areas of the port, or levies will have to be constructed at the shoreline of the port. The idea of creating protective barriers is certainly a more economic solution than raising the entire port but the long term impact is sure to lead to disasters like the consistent breaking of levies in gulf coast states. The economic cost of rising sea levels is sure to rival the cost involved in preventing climate change in the first place and I think these are statistics that need to be analyzed a lot more carefully to encourage politicians, businesses, and lawmakers to seriously consider implementing stricter regulations. The same goes for voters and taxpayers who are generally skeptical of any costly programs that are without immediate return. The key to this argument exists as a proverb; tug at a person’s heartstrings and you’ll receive tears, tug at their wallet and you’ll receive action.

  29. The issue of global warming has long been overcast by our world’s most powerful authorities. We have, right in front of us, evidence of our polar ice caps melting away and the detrimental consequences that could stem from that. People have been pleading the general population to wake up and understand the current situation our planet is in for years now and it is only just recently gaining traction.
    Many believe our time we have to help the Earth return to a healthier state is limited, and that if we do not do something within the next two decades our planet as we know it won’t ever be the same. Natural disasters will skyrocket, temperatures will rise, water will slowly evaporate away, and to the ones who have the capability to actually make change it’s all about the money and the financial gain.
    Long has the country and the world’s leaders ignored the impending doom global warming will send us spiraling into. It is reaching a level of concern that is far too great to just dismiss as a load of malarkey. Climate change is real, global warming is real, and this problem is especially real.
    These glaciers are pieces of the puzzle that have been keeping together the foundation of the Antarctic ice cap together. Losing said glaciers could be catastrophic towards efforts to keep this planet cool and its weather calm. As stated in the article, sea levels could rise from anywhere between 2-8 feet. Initially that doesn’t sound like much, but even inches are a noticeable and drastic difference when measuring the height of the water.

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