NASA discovered a huge ice cavity in an Antarctic glacier, which is two-thirds the Size of Manhattan. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole has shocked scientists and sparking concerns, as it is a signal of rapid ice decay than expected.
A new study from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that 14 billion tons of ice have almost entirely disappeared from Thwaites Glacier in the last three years.
The huge hole measuring almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall, was found growing at an “explosive rate” at the bottom of a glacier in West Antarctica, said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement on Wednesday.
“[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” said the study’s lead author, Pietro Milillo, scientist at the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.”
The researchers found the cavity using Italian and German satellites and ice-penetrating radar from Nasa’s Operation IceBridge, which uses research aircraft to monitor changes in polar ice.
Eric Rignot, a co-author of the study, said understanding how warming oceans were melting the glacier away was “essential to project its impact on sea level rise in the coming decades”.
“Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail,” he added.