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Current Affairs

Doomsday glacier more stable than expected

Date: 22 June 2021 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

A new study has found that world’s glaciers are not that vulnerable to collapse than previously estimated in studies.

 

Background

The Thwaites glacier, also known as Doomsday glacier, is one of the biggest examples of unstable glacier that the world has seen.

 

Details

  • Researchers modelled their study based on data obtained by studying the Thwaites glacier. The glacier is present in West Antarctica and highly unstable.

  • The study included measurements and details of the collapse of ice cliffs near sea shore that make up the glacier.

  • They were able to find that instable nature of the glacier does not result in complete or rapid disintegration.

  • The nature of ice allowed it to spread like a viscous fluid, allowing it to sustain for longer duration without breaking apart. Without this nature, it would have easily collapsed.

  • The new study was able to negate the previous theory of marine ice cliff instability in which ice cliffs collapsed under their weight as a result of fractures in ice.

  • In case of Doomsday glacier, its collapse can contribute about 3ft to sea level. The size and volume of the glacier makes it more devastating.

 

Rise of sea level

  • There is no doubt that glaciers are retreating due to climate change. But predicting the speed is complex due to variety of factors involved.

  • These factors include temperatures of air and water, effects of water on ice, weight of the ice added as layer etc.