Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica Could Prompt Doomsday Scenario
Scientists widely consider Thwaites glacier to be the most dangerous block of ice on planet earth. Some go so far as to term it the Doomsday glacier. The Doomsday glacier has its name for a reason. For starters, its density contains two-feet of potential sea level. In other words, if Thwaites glacier melts, two feet is immediately added to the ocean’s sea levels. But worse more, Thwaites glacier is stopping four other glaciers from collapsing. Those four glaciers hold up to 13 feet of new sea level.
Thwaites glacier resides in the distant lands of West Antarctica. It’s far out of sight, but no longer out of mind.
Knut Christianson, a 33-year-old glaciologist at the University of Washington, has visited the Doomsday glacier at least twice.
“You feel very alone out there,” he says.
As Thwaites glacier nears collapse, scientists worry that ramifications like the disappearance of West Antarctic are a mere decade away. It’s difficult to calculate exact timelines for this glacier collapse, mostly because glaciers have a threshold that when met, the whole thing crumbles. This means that one chunk of ice crumbling could mean the entire glacier gives way. That’s the doomsday aspect in this formula. Push Thwaites glacier too far, she tumbles into the seas, pushing sea levels and releasing four other glaciers into a collapsable phase.
“West Antarctica could do to the coastlines of the world what Hurricane Sandy did in a few hours to New York City,” explains Richard Alley, a geologist at Penn State University.
Thwaites Glacier – The Formula For Doomsday
Thwaites glacier will at some point reach what’s known as a “threshold system.” At this point, the glacier collapses. The important takeaway here is that Thwaites will melt to a point that the glacier will collapse. Once this event happens, the remains of West Antarctic ice will be compromised. Once that melts, we are looking at a 10 to 13-foot push of sea into places like New York and Miami. Worse more, unlike the consequences of a hurricane, in the case of the Doomsday glacier, the water won’t recede. This means places such as Fort Lauderdale/Miami are left submerged.
And the bad narrative doesn’t stop with Florida. California, New York, the Carolinas, and all exposed beachfront are subject to massive change. Sea level push also influences cities not parked on beaches. This is because the push of water will journey up rivers and flood unsuspecting communities.
The United States and the United Kingdom continue to monitor the situation. They want to better understand the logistics so they can better predict the fallout. Last year, scientists from both countries combined for a large-scale research project at Thwaites. The probed the glacier’s inner-workings, looking for any indicators and signs.
Thwaites glacier is between a mile and half-mile in thickness, depending on where measurements are taken. It is filled with streams and trapped waters. When scientists probe the beastly glacier, they are looking to understand the infrastructure. In other words, which area of the glacier might collapse and cause the ultimate, doomsday glacier scenario? Right now, that’s not known. What is known is that the threshold for large-scale collapse exists, just not where and when.
Thwaites Glacier Is Mostly On Land (And That’s Worse)
The bulk of Thwaites’ ice mass is on land. And that’s worse for everyone. This means that a Thwaites glacier collapse will push new water into the seas. The Doomsday Glacier adds a new influx of water to the seas in a short period of time.
As it stands, Thwaites overall contribution to rising sea levels is 4%.
But again, Twaites glacier contains active trapped water and it guards even more water than that. A Thwaites glacier collapse unleashes billions of cubic tons of water across our planet.
Thwaites glacier, if and when it collapses, could create global power shifts. Such scenarios have the potential to wreck global economies. A Doomsday glacier scenario displaces millions of people, pushing them all inland. Many of these people will have little in the way of financial support following such a catastrophe. This is why everyone needs a SHTF plan because even if you don’t live beachfront in Miami, you’ll still experience the fall-out. Millions of people challenged with obtaining food and water will migrate inland. Government agencies will be taxed and pushed to their limits. The natural disaster will create discord in major industrial and financial sectors. Remember New York City is a world financial leader. The bleeding won’t stop there, imagine mortgage lenders and insurance companies operating under such duress.
It is always important to take nothing for granted when it comes to mother nature. While many politicians will use the Doomsday glacier as a pawn to push climate change agendas, the reality is that mother nature is always changing. Whether its the New Madrid Seismic Zone or Yellowstone’s caldera supervolcano, man is hardly in control. Turn down the noise and turn up the prepping, that’s my advice.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.