Now, a stunning new void has been revealed amidst this massive vanishing act, and it’s a big one: a gigantic cavity growing under West Antarctica that scientists say covers two-thirds the footprint of Manhattan and stands almost 300 meters (984 ft) tall.
This huge opening at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier – a mass infamously dubbed the “most dangerous glacier in the world” – is so big it represents an overt chunk of the estimated 252 billion tonnes of ice Antarctica loses every year.
Researchers say the cavity would once have been large enough to hold some 14 billion tonnes of ice. Even more disturbing, the researchers say it lost most of this ice volume over the last three years alone.
“We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it,” says glaciologist Eric Rignot from the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
“Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail”.
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