If there is a ‘doomsday glacier‘ Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is it. The massive glacier is one of the fastest melting glaciers in the world and has the potential to destabilize the entire West Antarctic ice sheet––a scenario which would raise global sea levels an average of ten feet.
A team of scientists led by David Holland and Keith Nicholls––from the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration Project (ITGC)––are using hot water to drill holes through the glacier. On January 8 the first bore hole was drilled, opening a 590 meter access point directly to the bottom of the glacier.
The goal of the project––MELT––is to better understand how the warm water is melting the glacier at the grounding line. Ultimately, researchers hope the data gleaned will allow the glacier’s potential sea-level contribution to be more accurately predicted.
On Twitter, the handle @HotWaterOnIce is actively providing updates from Thwaites’ surface, providing an on-ice view of the depth and breadth of the research taking place.