The glacier is called Thwaites and is the largest on Earth. It covers 120,000 square kilometers, almost the size of half of the Italian peninsula. Thwaites already causes about 4% of the global annual sea-level rise.

One of the most important ice sheets in Antarctica could shatter within a few years. This was established by scientists who are part of a research project on the South Pole ice during the annual meeting of the American geophysical union.

Warmer ocean temperatures are eroding the ice sheet. Once broken, the glacier’s contribution to sea-level rise could increase by up to 25%, according to scientists.

It has been inexorably melting for some time now and its flow rate has doubled in the last 30 years: it is estimated that, for the moment, it is responsible for about 4% of the annual sea-level rise, with a contribution of 50 billion of tons of ice released into the ocean every year.

The glacier is anchored to an underwater ridge, but satellite images analyzed by scientists highlight deep fissures. Over the next few years, this platform will shatter into hundreds of smaller icebergs. A similar effect to that of a cracked windshield, experts say. It starts with a crack and then, all of a sudden, the glass shatters into smaller pieces.

These data were collected thanks to the International Thwaites glacier collaboration program, funded by the US national science foundation and by the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom. The five-year project is undergoing unprecedented monitoring awaits. Each summer season they travel to Antarctica to study the glacier’s behavior in every possible way, from satellites to ships facing the Antarctic.

Nor should it be underestimated that the rupture of this immense glacier, together with the rising seas and global warming in Antarctica, that all these effects, in short, produce a chain reaction that can also involve the opposite pole.

The Russian city of Verkhoyansk, in the Arctic Circle, has reached a record temperature of 38 degrees, 10 degrees higher than the average: a temperature that is more suited to the Mediterranean basin than to the Eastern Siberia, confirmed World Meteorological Organization (WMO).


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