Thwaites “Doomsday” Glacier and Related Information

Antarctica’s Thwaites “doomsday” glacier is a major concern to scientists because of its high risk of collapse and its looming threat to Earth’s sea level. Recently, it’s been expressed that the glacier has the potential to quickly retreat in the upcoming years which would cause a distressing amount of damage from rising sea levels with its anticipated dissolution. Due to the warming of the planet, the Thwaites Glacier is deteriorating along its underwater base.  For more information about the glacier, see below:

0) ‘Thwaites “Doomsday” Glacier’ Wikipedia page

Image courtesy of ScientificAmerican from their article: Antarctica’s Collapse Could Begin Even Sooner Than Anticipated, Nov. 1, 2022.

1) Some articles and documentaries about the  Thwaites “Doomsday” Glacier’:

a) ScientificAmerican: Antarctica’s Collapse Could Begin Even Sooner Than Anticipated by Douglas Fox, Nov. 1, 2022

b) PBS: Scientists measure how quickly crucial Antarctic glacier is melting, Jul. 25, 2022

“Scientists measure how quickly crucial Antarctica glacier is melting, Jul 25, 2022  Climate change’s connections with the extreme heat and weather events in the U.S. and around the globe have been well established. But climate change is also having a measurable impact on a much slower-moving development: the loss of glaciers and the melting of the ice. Miles O’Brien brings us this update on a scientist’s quest to chronicle what’s happening with one of the most important glaciers.”

Note: This PBS documentary indicates that the water beneath this glacier is 4 deg. C (39 deg. F).  This temperature is much warmer than ice and as a result, is making the glacier melt rapidly.  Some experts are predicting that this glacier could collapse in 3 years

c) CNN: ‘Doomsday glacier,’ which could raise sea level by several feet, is holding on ‘by its fingernails,’ scientists say, by Angela Fritz, Sept. 6, 2022

d) LiveScience: Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ is hemorrhaging ice faster than in the past 5,500 years, by Ben Turner published Jun. 15, 2022

Ancient bones revealed how fast the melting ice raised the Antarctic shorelines

e) New York Post: Antarctica’s ‘doomsday glacier’ could collapse in 3 years, raise sea levels, by Yaron Steinbuch, Dec. 15, 2021

f) The Conversation: Antarctica’s ‘doomsday’ glacier: how its collapse could trigger global floods and swallow islands, by Ella Gilbert Dec. 22, 2021

g) Forbes: ‘Doomsday Glacier’ The Size Of Florida Could Begin To Collapse This Decade, Remaking Coastlines Worldwide, by Eric MackContributor, Dec. 24, 2021

h) Rolling Stone: ‘The Fuse Has Been Blown,’ and the Doomsday Glacier Is Coming for Us Allby Jeff Goodell, Dec. 29, 2021

“New data suggests a massive collapse of the ice shelf in as little as five years. “We are dealing with an event that no human has ever witnessed,” says one scientist. “We have no analog for this””

i) Medscape: The Collapse of Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ Is Accelerating, November 21, 2022

j) Rapid retreat of Thwaites Glacier in the pre-satellite era, 5 Sept 2022

k) Hakai Magazine: How We Came to Know and Fear the Doomsday Glacier by Marissa GrunesJanuary 3, 2023
It’s the world’s most vulnerable glacier and key to the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, yet we’re only now getting to know Thwaites Glacier. What took us so long?

2) Additional articles about other glaciers:

a) Worst impacts of sea level rise will hit earlier than expected, says modeling study by Derek Smith, American Geophysical Union, JANUARY 24, 2023
b) WashPost: When scientists tagged a curious seal, he led them to signs of a potential climate disaster By Chris Mooney and  Simon Ducroquet, January 21, 2023
c) VoA: New Ice Core Analysis Shows Sharp Increase in Greenland Warming, January 24, 2023
d) U of Texas: Greenland’s glaciers might be melting 100 times as fast as previously thought by University of Texas at Austin, Dec 15, 2022
e) CNN: Iceberg roughly the size of London breaks off in Antarctica By Jennifer Hauser and Angela Fritz, CNN, January 25, 2023
f) Antarctic Researchers Report an Extraordinary Marine Heatwave That Could Threaten Antarctica’s Ice Shelves By Bob Berwyn, Feb. 12, 2023 –
The inexorable rise of ocean heat is now evident off the coast of West Antarctica, potentially disrupting critical parts of the global climate system and accelerating sea level rise.

3) Erin Sikorsky, Director, International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) and Deputy Director, Center for Climate and Security recommended the following:

“The intelligence community in particular should examine the less certain but high impact long term scenarios such as the potential collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. The National Security Council should also consider convening a government wide climate security exercise focused on the homeland.”

***Erin Sikorsky spoke at our conference about climate, security, solutions and finance last year.  To view her talk at this conference last year, see this video segment: 29:14 (by Erin Sikorsky)

4) Some security reports talking about Doomsday (Thwaites) Glacier:

a) Council on Strategic Risks, The Centre for Climate and Security: Taking Stock: Integrating Climate Change into U.S. National Security Practices in 2022, by Erin Sikorsky and Brigitte Hugh, Jan. 25, 2022

The intelligence community in particular should examine the less certain but high-impact long-term scenarios such as the potential collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. The National Security Council should also consider convening a government-wide climate security exercise focused on the homeland

b) DOD News: DOD Official Says U.S. Faces Climate Change Crisis, by David Vergun, Aug. 3, 2021

c) Strategy Bridge: Unwelcome Surprises: How the Department of Defense Fails to Adequately Prepare for Climate Shocks, by , Jun. 1, 2022

“Turning to the other example of an unanticipated event, another recent study found that the ice shelf holding back the Thwaites Glacier is likely to collapse within the next five years. This will speed the melting of a structure that contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by more than two feet. The Guardian reports that the Conger Ice Shelf, with an area of approximately 1,200 square kilometers, collapsed on March 15th in a region where such events are historically uncommon. Failing to consider potential events like these when planning mitigation against rising sea levels could result in constructing inadequate protective measures, meaning that these projects would have to be expanded or possibly reconstructed further inland.”

4) Some useful websites and information relating to sea level rise:

a) NASA: Global Climate Change, Vital Signs of the Planet – Sea Level

b) National Geographic: Sea level rise, explained, by Christina Nunez and NatGeo Staff, Feb. 15, 2022

c) There are Four Main Causes of Sea Level Rise 

d) The Future of Sea Level Rise 

If the doomsday glacier collapses, it will add to these numbers, While it took 60 years for the sea level to rise about 6 inches nationally, scientists now forecast that in just the next 20 years, the sea will have risen by another 6 inches.”

e) NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer

i) See Miami

f) Flood Map: Elevation Map, Sea Level Rise Map

5) CNN: Ocean water is rushing miles underneath the ‘Doomsday Glacier’ with potentially dire impacts on sea level rise, May 21, 2024