NASA warn ‘dangerous’ Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica on verge of COLLAPSE

The cavity is two-thirds the size of Manhattan. They say that the size of the cavity is big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice and that all the ice melted over the last three years. The scientists have calculated that the melting glacier has already contributed to about 4 percent of the total global sea level rise.

However, the researchers say that the size and growth rate of the hole surprised them.

Researcher Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine said, 'We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it.

"Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail". They used NASA's ice-penetrating radar to get their data.

These very high-resolution data can be processed by a technique called radar interferometry to reveal how the ground surface below has moved between images.

By observing the undersides of Antarctic glaciers, researchers hope to calculate how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.

Thwaites Glacier plays an instrumental role in the story of rising sea levels and climate change, so there's never been more of a drive to study and understand it.

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And worse, its neighbouring glaciers would raise sea levels an additional eight feet if all the ice was lost. Just this week, an icebreaker ship left Chile to begin a scientific expedition to Thwaites Glacier with the help of a number of other ships, researchers, planes, and tagged wild seals. The research has shown that Thwaites Glacier is peeling off from the bedrock beneath it, meaning more of the glacier's base is exposed to warming waters.

"We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat", first author of the new paper, JPL radar scientist Pietro Milillo explains.

A large cavity has formed under what has been described as one of the world's most risky glaciers, and could contribute to a significant bump in global sea levels, said Nasa scientists.

The newly discovered cavity sits on the western side of the glacier, where the melt rate was found to be fastest.

"On the eastern side of the glacier, the grounding-line retreat proceeds through small channels, maybe a kilometer wide, like fingers reaching beneath the glacier to melt it from below", Mr. Milillo said.

The complex pattern the new readings reveal - which don't fit with current ice sheet or ocean models - suggest scientists have more to learn about how water and ice interact with one another in the frigid but warming Antarctic environment.

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