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The Underground Cavern That Makes Thwaites Glacier Crumble

Apart from global warming, scientists from NASA have found that there is an underground cavern in a glacier that is almost as big as Manhattan.

The data comes from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a program that flies radar-equipped planes over the poles to map out glaciers and ice sheets in three dimensions. These radar images are even capable of seeing through the ice to get a clear model of the glacier down to the bedrock.
In Thwaites’ case, that radar uncovered a gigantic cavern between the glacier itself and the bedrock below it. That cavern is likely filled with air much warmer than the surrounding ice, triggering faster melting of the glacier than would happen otherwise. Thanks to this nearly Manhattan-size gap in the ice, the entire glacier along with the surrounding ice sheet will likely disappear much more quickly.

(Image credit: NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck)


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