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Scientists make alarming discovery after sending robot under the huge 'Doomsday Glacier'

Scientists make alarming discovery after sending robot under the huge 'Doomsday Glacier'

We're experiencing 'rapid glacier retreat', according to an expert.

Experts who elected to send a device underneath the Thwaites ‘Doomsday Glacier’ have been left gobsmacked after releasing the impact it could have on the world.

If this is your first time hearing about the Doomsday Glacier then buckle in, because this one is a wild ride.

In 1940, polar researchers initially cited the West Antarctic glacier but it wasn’t mapped until 1959-1966.

A year later, it was officially named the Thwaites Glacier after the late American glaciologist Fredrik T. Thwaites.

The floating ice gets its moniker, the Doomsday Glacier, due to holding enough ice to raise the ocean by a staggering 3.3 meters.

Over the years, the ice shelf has been shrinking, retreating away and releasing floods of meltwater into the surrounding ocean.

Therefore, if it does ever melt completely, it could be catastrophic and would alter the makeup of the Earth forever.

Due to the life-threatening situation the Doomsday Glacier poses, there is a dedicated research team tasked with keeping a firm eye on its movements.

This same group previously discovered that the Thwaites Glacier - which is said to be the size of Florida - had worryingly deep cracks forming.

It’s said that these splits, which help keep the berg in one piece, were degrading at a concerning rate.

Hongjie Han / Getty
Hongjie Han / Getty

To understand the effects of these cracks, scientists elected to send a robot into the icy Arctic waters to get a scope of what was really going on.

A robotic device, named ‘Icefin’, was funnelled 2,000ft down into the water and took a collection of photos and videos of the glacier.

In results, published in February 2023, experts revealed that the ice shelf is in serious trouble.

Speaking to CNN about the study, lead researcher Peter Davis said: “The glacier is still in trouble. What we have found is that despite small amounts of melting there is still rapid glacier retreat, so it seems that it doesn’t take a lot to push the glacier out of balance."

Rob Robbins
Rob Robbins

Furthermore, he said that despite melting rates being lower than expected it wasn’t the time for climate complacency.

Speaking more recently on the subject, Christine Dow, an associate professor of glaciology at the University of Waterloo has said scientists hope it will take at least 500 years for the Doomsday Glacier to melt.

"We really, really need to understand how fast the ice is changing, how fast it is going to change over the next 20 to 50 years," she explained to Scientific American last month.

"We were hoping it would take a hundred, 500 years to lose that ice. A big concern right now is if it happens much faster than that.”

Featured Image Credit: Rob Robbins / Hongjie Han/Getty

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