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Antarctica's glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates. This rapid ice loss contributes to rising sea-levels.
In a new study, scientists found that the Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica will likely hit a point of irreversible melting, after which it will lose all of its ice over a period of 150 years.
Thwaites - Glacier - Sea - Levels - Feet
If the entire Thwaites Glacier were to melt, it would raise sea levels by at least 1.5 feet.
Some experts warn that the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could trigger a chain reaction of melting that would raise sea levels by another 8 feet.
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In western Antarctica, a glacier the size of Florida is losing ice faster than ever before.
Sections - Thwaites - Glacier - Feet - Year
Sections of the Thwaites Glacier are retreating by up to 2,625 feet per year, contributing to 4% of sea-level rise worldwide. That ice loss is part of a broader trend: The entire Antarctic ice sheet is melting nearly six times as fast as it did 40 years ago. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year.
Now, authors of a new study report that over the last six years, the rate at which five Antarctic glaciers slough off ice has doubled. That makes the Thwaites Glacier a melting time bomb.
Scientists - Proceedings - National - Academy - Sciences
The scientists reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the glacier poses the greatest risk to future sea-level rise and is likely marching towards an irreversible melting point.
"After reaching the tipping point, Thwaites Glacier could lose all of its ice in a period of 150 years," Hélène Seroussi, an author of the study and a NASA scientist, said in a press release. "That would make for a sea-level rise of about half a meter (1.64 feet)."
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