A glacier in Antarctica that is responsible for four percent of the world’s rising sea levels has a massive underwater cavity that could likely speed up the glacier’s deterioration, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the size of Florida, has been rapidly deteriorating over the last several years due to climate change and warming ocean waters. The cavity, which is roughly two-thirds the size of Manhattan, is now large enough to hold over 14 billion tons of ice, the majority of which has melted over the last three years. The cavity allows the ocean to melt the ice even faster, researchers say.
If the remainder of the Thwaites Glacier melted, sea levels could rise by as much as two feet, reports the Times.
A study released last month showed that Antarctica’s glaciers are now melting at an alarming rate, with approximately 40 billion tons melting per year in the 1980s and more than 250 billion tons melting annually in recent years.