NASA has just made a disturbing discovery under the Antarctic ice. A team led by the space agency found a large cavity, about 1,000 feet high, below a glacier in Antarctica, and its size is constantly increasing.
Experts have predicted that they would make a large cavity somewhere underneath the Thwaites Glacier, which is in West Antarctica, but they did not expect such a large one between the ice sheet and the bedrock. NASA scientists discovered the expansive camera using a combination of radar and satellite imaging techniques.
The cavity has been forming for the past three years as the global higher temperatures have constantly melted the ice. The cavity, which is close to the size of Manhattan, is large enough to hold about 14 billion tons of ice at a time.
"[The size of] a cavity beneath a glacier plays an important role in the merger, "said Pietro Milillo, who works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "As more heat and water penetrate the glacier, it melts faster."
Related: The oceans heat up 40 percent faster than previously thought.
NASA believes that the cavity illustrates the need for more Antarctic studies in the near future, especially as global temperatures continue to rise. Being aware of the rapidity with which these glaciers melt will also allow us to better understand the rise in sea level and climate change around the world. The space agency hopes that additional studies will help better predict the number of oceans that grow, which has a direct impact on coastal populations.
With a size similar to that of Florida, the Thwaites glacier has contributed to a four percent increase in sea level in recent years. NASA discovered that the Antarctic glacier has enough mbad to raise sea level around the world by approximately two feet. Even more worrying, melting glaciers affect nearby ice bodies, which leads to additional runoff.
Scientists previously discovered that sea levels are rising faster than they have in the past 2,800 years. Experts also anticipate that the oceans could double their current rate over the next 100 years. The great majority of the rise in sea level is due to the fusion of the Antarctic glaciers. These huge chunks of ice contribute an astounding 14,000 tons of water per second to the surrounding oceans.
Image through NASA.