RSS

The Doomsday Glacier

20 May

Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is so remote that only 28 human beings have ever set foot on it.Knut Christianson, a 33-year-old glaciologist at the University of Washington, has been there twice. A few years ago, Christianson and a team of seven scientists traveled more than 1,000 miles from McMurdo Station, the main research base in Antarctica, to spend six weeks on Thwaites, traversing along the flat, featureless prairie of snow and ice in six snowmobiles and two Tucker Sno-Cats. “You feel very alone out there,” Christianson says. He and his colleagues set up camp at a new spot every few days and drilled holes 300 feet or so into the ice. Then they dropped tubes of nitroglycerin dynamite into these holes and triggered a blast. Sensors tracked vibrations as they shot through the ice and ricocheted off the ground below. By measuring the shape and frequency of these vibrations, Christianson could see the lumps and ridges and even the texture of a crushed continent deeply buried beneath the ice.But Christianson and his colleagues were not just ice geeks mapping the hidden topography of the planet. They were mapping a future global disaster. As the world warms, determining exactly how quickly ice melts and seas rise may be one of the most important questions of our time. Half the world’s population lives within 50 miles of a coastline. Trillions of dollars of real estate is perched on beaches and clustered in low-lying cities like Miami and New York. A long, slow rise of the waters in the coming decades may be manageable. A more abrupt rise would not be. “If there is going to be a climate catastrophe,” says Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat, “it’s probably going to start at Thwaites.”

Source: The Doomsday Glacier – Rolling Stone

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Reportages

 

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: