The Doomsday Glacier

The Doomsday Glacier and how fast it’s melting…

an informative 4 minute read – hang in there

What a weird few months it has been. If you take a break and look around, and think what a year it has been so far. I hope it doesn’t sound too depressing to say that we are on the final stretch of summer and Autumn is just around the corner. Still, Autumn isn’t too bad with its pretty leaves and warm cups of tea. I think we should all just write off in 2020. Let’s just knock off one year off our age as 2020 didn’t really count. 

I am almost old enough to remember the days when, as a family, you’d get on a plane or in the car and go somewhere hot for the summer. South of France, Italy, Spain, or further afield. Nowadays, London is just as hot as the hot countries during the summer.

You don’t even have to research that much to see that every year, temperature records are broken. These records keep breaking the previous year’s record. Sitting here in London at this very moment writing this article, it is 36 degrees. That is not normal. It almost sounds cliche talking about melting ice caps and global warming but it is the most immediate and critical issue that humans face now and in the future. It is far more devastating than Covid-19, a meteor striking earth, or the fact that you haven’t been on holiday this summer, therefore, haven’t got any decent photos for the insta.

Thwaites glacier, the subject of this newsletter, nicknamed the ‘Doomsday Glacier’, is a huge land-based 74,000 square miles, beautiful but melting slab of ice, nearly a million years old. 

Research and satellite imagery has revealed the Thwaites glacier is melting at an ever accelerated and exponential rate, threatening knock on catastrophic sea-level rise, and putting millions of lives at risk. Hence why it has been nicknamed the doomsday glacier. 

It is important to remember that it isn’t the floating ice that is cause for concern (like the Arctic) because that won’t change sea levels if it melts as it is already in the sea. The problem is the land-based ice, like the Antarctic and Tibetan Plateau. When these areas melt, the water runs into the sea causing sea level rise.

What makes Thwaites glacier so significant is that it demonstrates how fast the rest of the ice is melting around Antarctica due to warmer ocean and air, and is something of a canary in the coal mine. 

Sea Level rise doesn’t just immediately impact those living on coasts. It also changes weather patterns. The frequency of mega-storms, huge droughts, and increased peaks and troughs of temperatures are increasing, as well as constantly sweaty armpits. These huge weather pattern changes will result in equatorial climates moving thousands of miles north and south, meaning tropical weather will be more of a norm in cooler countries, and countries that are near the equator will become unbearably hot and unlivable. Mass migration of humans away from equatorial will result. If you’re not a huge fan of immigration, or you voted for Brexit, imagine 10 million immigrants from Africa and South East Asia turning up.

The Thwaites glacier has enough fresh water to raise the entire global sea level by nearly 2 feet. The collapse of Thwaites glacier would result in the eventual collapse of most of West Antarctica which would raise the sea level by 3 meters. Not only is this a total disaster for cities like Miami, New York, and other coastal flat countries like Bangladesh and Netherlands, it would also disrupt ocean currents and channels, which would then, in turn, change our weather patterns. 

Recent studies and data have now uncovered that enough ice has melted from the Thwaites Glacier in the last 25 years alone to fill up the Grand Canyon with water. That’s 4000 gigatons of water since 1994. The grounding line (where the glacier rests on the bedrock of the ocean) has retreated 14km since 1992 because warm ocean currents in the sea are melting the underbelly of the glacier. This means that large chunks of ice are constantly falling into the ocean and melting. 

The three most important and significant masses of ice are the Arctic circle, The Antarctic, and the Tibetan Plateau. One of the key inherent functions of these masses of ice (especially the Arctic and Antarctic) is that they reflect a lot of the sun’s energy and heat off the earth surface. This is known as the albedo effect. As more and more of the planet’s ice caps melt, the less they can reflect off the sun’s heat and rays, further exacerbating global warming and catastrophic climate change.

Enormous chunks of ice break off land-based glaciers and bodies of ice, which raise the sea-levels.

A degree of concern

Overall global temperature rises are very subtle and finite. However, the smallest changes to global average temperature have drastic and dramatic effects. 

According to Nasa, a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global average temperature will result in 14% of the earth’s population being exposed to severe heat waves at least once every 5 years. A 2 degrees Celsius increase would result in 37% of earth’s population being exposed to deadly heatwaves. Current projections show that we are heading for a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global average temperature in the next 50 years.

It all sounds like doom and gloom. However, there are things you can do to help. Walking more, using public transport more, eating less red meat – all things that are a standard in modern-day life. But you can also help us as a company. We really appreciate all the new people who have followed us in our journey and signed up to our newsletter. The new signs ups since the last newsletter have resulted in us protecting another approximately 30 acres of rainforest. Yay! 

As always, tell your friends and family to follow us and sign up to our newsletter. Book your next holiday through us, and spread the word and love! 

See you next time

Ed