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Cracking the Code: Unveiling the "Doomsday Glacier's" Meltdown Mystery

The Thwaites Glacier, often referred to as the "Doomsday Glacier" for its potentially catastrophic impact on sea levels, holds the title of being the widest glacier globally. It’s located in West Antarctica and is around the size of Florida. Scientists had known this glacier had been melting at a rather rapid pace since the 1970s, yet the question on their minds was “Why exactly was this happening?”- they now have an answer.


For some context on why the “Doomsday Glacier” effects are so severe: because it’s already melting, it contributes to 4% of the rising sea level every year. It sloughs off billions of tons of ice a year into the ocean, and if it were to completely collapse, it would raise the sea level by two feet. Why is this bad? Rising sea levels increase the intensity of sea storms such as hurricanes and typhoons, and also lead to severe damage in coastal areas, including but not limited to major flooding.


According to a paper published by the National Academy of Science, the melting was likely jump-started by an El Nino event in the 1940s. El Nino is essentially when climate patterns are indicative of increased warming on the earth's surface which typically leads to hotter years. Due to this El Nino Event, the glacier hasn’t been able to recover and is consistently and continuously melting at a rapid, troubling rate. 


It's imperative to consider this occurrence in the broader context of climate change. Glacial melting is akin to a domino effect: once it's set in motion, it's nearly impossible to stop. Furthermore, in light of this discovery, scientists hope this will shine an even brighter light on the concept of climate change and its very real, rapidly approaching effects that will alter our daily lives. Climate change, specifically glacial melting, is only getting worse because of humans and how we treat the environment, so it’s our responsibility to take accountability and lower the effects as much as possible.


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