In a significant discovery, a group of scientists from New York University, along with colleagues from NYU Abu Dhabi, was able to detect the presence of warm water on the frigid continent of Antarctica.
According to USA Today, the discovery was made under the Thwaites Glacier, which is a massive block of ice located in west Antarctica. One of the largest in the world, the Thwaites Glacier — at 75,000 sq miles — is roughly the same size as the entire U.S. state of Florida.
The discovery of warm water underneath this glacier could, according to scientists, speed up the process of melting of ice in Antarctica and potentially result in the rise of sea-levels across the planet.
According to David Holland, director of New York University’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the discovery of warm water should be considered a warning to humans about the “potential dire changes brought about by climate change.”
He went on to assert that people should not remain complacent over the fact that these events are happening in an uninhabited, faraway continent. The effects of the melting of a glacier the size of the Thwaites Glacier would almost certainly be felt in other densely populated areas. Coastal cities and populations would be at particular risk, he added.
What is particularly concerning is that the Thwaites Glacier remains one of the fastest melting glaciers in Antarctica. Several scientists also believe that this very glacier is the most vulnerable and significant glacier in the world that could contribute to global sea-level rise in the future.
Historical data indicates that there has been a significant increase in the amount of ice flowing out of the Thwaites Glacier. In the last 30 years alone, this amount has nearly doubled.
The team of scientists who were behind the discovery of warm water underneath this glacier spent a considerable amount of time in Antarctica. They were able to create a near-2,000 feet hole and sent in an underwater, ocean-sensing device with a thermometer to measure the temperature of the melted water flowing beneath.
What makes this discovery significant is that this was the first time that oceanic activity underneath the Thwaites Glacier was accessed in this fashion. Scientists opened the hole on January 8, and the properties of the warm water underneath were measured between January 10 and 11.
According to Aurora Basinski, an NYU graduate student who was part of the team that made the measurement, the experiment helped them gauge the efficiency of the warm water flowing beneath to melt the ice shelf base.
Previously, The Inquistr has reported about a massive hot spot 3-times the size of London lurking below the ice sheet in Antarctica.