When the ice art remote control robotic submarine is propelled down the speed gradually Snow yellow camera ‘s through contaminated water from the soil particles to pass.
After that the water starts to clear.
Icefin lies about half a mile or 600 meters below the ice in front of one of the world’s fastest-changing glaciers.
Suddenly a shadow begins to wave over it. It has reached the bottom of a rock covered with mud.
It doesn’t look great, but it’s still a unique image. These are the first images from a world that is changing our world.
Ice-Finn has reached a point where the seawater collides with a wall of ice in front of a giant glacier called the Thauits. This is where this piece of ice begins to melt.
‘The world’s most important glacier’
Glaciers experts have named Thwaites the world’s ‘most important’ glacier, the ‘most dangerous’ glacier and even the ‘Doomsday’ glacier.
It is huge and almost the same as the volume of the UK.
This isolation glacier alone accounts for four percent of the worldwide sea level rise, which is a huge number for the glacier alone. Satellite data shows that its melting speed is accelerating.
There is so much water inside this single glacier that it can add half a meter to the sea level worldwide.
Thwaites lies in the middle of this vast iceberg region of Antarctica, known as the ‘West Antarctic Ice Sheet’. The water in this ice sheet can increase sea levels by up to three meters.
But until this year, no one has attempted a large-scale scientific survey on this glacier.
The IceFin team, along with about 40 other scientists, is part of an alliance called the International Thwaites Glacier Club. The alliance has been established by the UK and the United States for a five-year period with a hefty sum of US $ 500 million (£ 80m), and aims to understand why this glacier is changing so fast. ۔
The project is the largest and most complex scientific program in Antarctica’s history.
You may wonder why we know so little about this important glacier. At least I was very surprised when this team invited me to cover their work.
When I was trying to get here, I immediately knew why.
More snow on the icy runway delays my flight from New Zealand to Mac Murdo. It is the main US research station in Antarctica.
This was the first of a long series of delays and delays. It only takes weeks for teams of scientists to reach their field camps.
At one point the entire season’s research was nearing cancellation as all flights from Mac Murdo to western Antarctica were canceled for 17 consecutive days due to storms.
Why is Thwaites so important?
Antarctica is the continent where most of the world’s storms occur, and Western Antarctica is the part of the continent where more storms occur than the rest of the region.
Thwaites is also quite remote by Antarctica. It is more than 1000 miles (1600 km) from the nearest research center.
To date, only four people have reached the front of the glacier and were also in the frontline for this year’s research.
But to predict exactly how much sea level will rise in the future, it is important for scientists to know what’s going on here.
Antarctica has 90% of the world’s fresh water, and 80% of it is in the eastern part of the frozen continent.
In eastern Antarctica, the snow is thick, on average more than a mile thick. But it is above the high plains and goes very slowly into the sea.
Some of this snow has been here for millions of years.
But Western Antarctica is quite different. It is smaller than the eastern part but still larger and may be more affected by the change.
Unlike the eastern part, it is not present on the high plains. In fact, almost all of this layer of ice is below the sea level. And if there was no snow, it would have been a deep sea with few islands.
I had been in Antarctica for five weeks, after which I was boarded a British Antarctic survey plane and taken to the glacier.
I will be camping there with a team called the grounding zone.
They set up their camp on the ice where the glacier is mixed with sea water. And their job is one of the most difficult tasks.
They want to drill about half a mile down to where the glacier is floating on the water.
No one has ever done this before with such a large and vibrant glacier.
These people will access the sea water from the hole that is melting the glacier. They will know where this water is coming from and why the glacier is being attacked in such a dangerous manner.
They don’t have much time.
The delays mean that they have only a few weeks left of the Antarctic summer, after which the weather will get worse.
When the drilling team members were setting up their equipment, I helped survey the earthquake in the bottom of the glacier.
At the US University of Oregon, specialist Glacier Dr. Kia Riverman drills a large rotating drill bit of stainless steel and sets off a bit of explosives.
The rest of us drill holes in the snow to place a ‘geophone’ or ‘geo-rod’. These are the electric ears that help to hear the echo of the explosion, which comes through waves of water and ice.
Thwaites stand at the bottom of the ocean
Scientists are so worried about Thoites because the glacier becomes thicker as you approach Earth.
At its deepest point, the base of the glacier lies more than a mile below sea level and a mile high above it.
Apparently the deep seawater of the oceans is flowing to the coast from which the glacier is melting.
And as the glacier melts, more ice is exposed to the water.
It is as if you start slicing through the thin section of cheese cheese.
The size of each slice will become larger, giving the water more ice to melt.
And that’s not the only effect.
Gravity means that ice will always want to be smooth. And as the front of the glacier melts, the weight of the large mass of ice behind it will push it forward.
Dr. Riverman explains that he wants to push the glacier forward. The higher the ice wall, the higher the glacier will come.
And the higher the glacier melts, the more likely it is to have the snow flow.
She says’ the fear is that all these things will get faster. It’s a horrible affair. ‘
In such a harsh environment, it is not easy to do such a large amount of scientific research that some scientists are simply blown away to a remote location.
They require tons of specialized equipment, twenty thousand liters of fuel, tents, camping equipment and food.
I spent a month on the ice, some of them scientists would spend more than me – two months or more.
About one dozen flights of special Hercules cargo planes for the American Antarctic program’s snowflakes transported scientists and some of their equipment to the project’s central post in the middle of western Antarctica’s ice sheet.
Then an old Dakota and two Twin Otter aircraft transported people and their belongings to the Field Campus, hundreds of miles from here, by the sea in the glacier.
The distances are so high that they had to set up another camp half a distance from the glacier to refuel the planes.
Its contribution to the British Antarctic Survey was a tremendous ground trip, bringing hundreds of tons of fuel and cargo.
Last summer in Antarctica, two special ships anchored along an iceberg on the shores of the peninsular Antarctica.
Then a team of drivers riding special snowflakes pulled them over a thousand miles through the toughest weather and ground conditions.
It was a difficult journey and the maximum speed was only 10 miles per hour.
Drilling in the snow
Scientists at the grounding zone camp plan to use hot water to drill holes in the ice.
For this, they will need 10,000 liters of water, which means melting 10 tonnes of ice.
Everyone gets to work with the hoe, and a small swimming pool-sized rubber container begins to throw ice into the ‘filler’.
‘It will be the southernmost Jacuzzi in the world,’ says Paul Anker, drilling engineer for the British Antarctic Survey.
The principle is simple. With a number of boilers, you heat the water a little less than the boiling point, and then spray it on ice and make your way to the melt.
However, it is not easy to dig a 30-cm hole in nearly half a mile of snow in front of the world’s most vibrant glaciers.
The temperature of this ice is minus 25 degrees Celsius so it will become a pit ice and the whole process depends on the weather.
At the beginning of January when all the equipment was ready, we were warned that another storm was coming.
Usually Antarctica’s storms are very severe. It is not unusual that snowstorms in this area cause strong winds, as well as low temperatures.
The storm is in stark contrast to the storms in Antarctica, but it also has winds of up to 50 miles per hour for three days. Due to these winds, a large amount of snow falls on the camp which also falls on the equipment and stops all work.
We were sitting in food tents playing cards and drinking tea and scientists were discussing why this glacier was melting so fast.
He says its causes include climate change, the severity of the weather and the temperature of the waves.
The most important in this regard is the hot water of the sea, which comes from other corners of the globe.
As the temperature of the Gulf waves between Greenland and Iceland decreases, the weight of the water increases.
Water is saline, which causes it to become heavier, but its temperature is still one or two centigrade above zero degrees.
The salty and salty water is transported to the South Atlantic by a deep tidal wave, also known as the Atlantic Conveyor. These waves travel below the water’s low temperature surface.
Change in the winds
Here it transforms into an Antarctic circumpolar current and travels from the base of the cold water to a depth of about 530 meters.
In Antarctica, the surface water temperature is minus two degrees Celsius, which is the freezing point of saline water.
Traveling deep, this hot water roams the entire continent, but lately it has been touching the icebergs of eastern Antarctica.
At this point, the role of climate change becomes important.
These scientists say that the Pacific’s water temperatures are rising, causing winds to shift to eastern Antarctica. Due to which hot and deep water is emerging from the continent’s shelf.
“This deep Antarctic circumpolar water is only a few degrees warmer than the water above it, but it can cause glaciers to melt,” says David Holland, a marine geologist at New York University.
David Holland is one of the prominent scientists in the grounding zone camp.
I was supposed to leave Antarctica in late December, but due to delays, drilling could only begin on January 7.
This is a satellite phone call from the US Antarctic program headquarters in Mac Mardo.
We were told that we could not stay here any longer and that we would have to return immediately to the logistics vessel which was arriving at the camp within an hour.
It was disappointing that we had to go back before the pit was built. Especially because it took us a long time to get here and operate these devices.
We said goodbye and boarded the ship. I turned around and saw that the wheel above the drill was rotating and the black material was coming out of it.
They had reached about half a mile deep in the snow. Our ship was flying from the camp to the north, to the sea.
The scientists told me that our camp was on a piece of ice that was protected by the rising ground.
As our flight passed through the glacier, I was shocked to see how fragile the glacier was.
There is no denying that some great forces are slowly breaking and eating this ice.
In some places this layer of ice has completely broken down and is slowly floating in the sea in the form of small snowflakes.
Elsewhere, there are ice rocks about a mile above sea level.
The front of the glacier is about 100 miles wide and each year its two-mile stretch falls into the sea.
The scale of its melting is huge and it also makes it clear that the Thauites are a very important reason for the rise in sea levels in the world, but I was surprised to learn that another process caused its melting speed. May be faster.
Increase in melting speed
Most glaciers that flow into the sea have an ‘ice pump’.
Sea water is thicker as it becomes salty. The melting water is lighter than fresh.
As the glacier is melting, fresh water flows to the surface and semi-hot and boiling water flows beneath it.
This process is very slow when the sea water is cold. The ice pump usually melts only a few dozen centimeters and easily maintains balance on the newly formed ice.
However, according to scientists, semi-hot water changes the process.
According to the evidence from other glaciers, the ice pump works faster if you increase the amount of hot water.
At that point, we get more scientists. This has been a very successful season.
They have confirmed that deep semi-warm circular polar water is going down the glacier and they have collected good data in this regard.
The Ice Art Robot submarine has worked on five missions so far. It has taken numerous measurements of water underneath the glacier and also captured amazing images.
It will take several years to review these figures and this team has put these data into pre-built models that can predict future water levels rise.
Sea level rise
Thwaites will not expire immediately. Scientists say that it will take decades, if not centuries, to eradicate it.
However, we should not be careless because of this.
Adding a meter to the sea level may not sound like much, especially when you consider that in some places the waves can rise or fall up to three or four meters.
Professor David Vaughan, director of science in the British Antarctic Survey, says sea level is linked to storms. See the example of London.
An increase of fifty centimeters above sea level means that the storm that came every 1000 years ago will now come every 100 years.
If the level increases even by one meter, the storm is likely to occur every 10 years.
“We should not be surprised at all,” Professor Wan says. We were about to board a plane that would take us to New Zealand and then home.
Temperatures in the atmosphere and oceans are rising due to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide.
Heat is energy and energy changes the weather and the waves.
They say that if you increase the energy in the system, all major global natural processes will change.
Professor Wan said, “These have changed in the Arctic and what we are seeing in the Antarctic is a big system responding in its own way.”
Research and Maps Courtesy: Allison Trousdale, Becky del Lille Heinh from Irene de la Torre, with photos courtesy of Jemma Cox and David Vaughan. Further research was done by Professor Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University