Thwaites Glacier is a massive glacier about the size of Florida in the West Antarctic. It’s been nicknamed the Doomsday Glacier because it’s disintegrating at an alarming rate and is expected to drive up sea levels by more than half a metre if it disappears completely. That’s not expected to happen in our lifetimes, and parts of the glacier are melting at a slower rate than computer models had predicted.
It’s one of the fastest-changing ice-ocean systems in Antarctica, and scientists have been studying what’s going on using an underwater robot called Icefin. Icefin is a cylindrical underwater drone with an array of sensors, including cameras, to document what’s happening beneath the ice shelf. Although melting below the ice where it meets the ocean is slower than expected, melting in cracks and crevasses is happening more quickly.