SOURCE: The Washington Post

DATE: April 30, 2018

SNIP: The largest U.S.-British Antarctic mission in seven decades officially launched at an event in Cambridge on Monday, as the two countries pooled dollars and scientific resources for missions to West Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier — a Florida-size ice body that, scientists fear, could flood the world’s coastlines in our lifetimes.

“For global sea-level change in the next century, this Thwaites glacier is almost the entire story,” said David Holland, a geoscientist at New York University.

Thwaites is wide and deep and flows out of the heart of West Antarctica, a marine ice sheet that could contribute about 10 feet of global sea-level rise. Thwaites is losing ice rapidly, with its 50 billion tons per year currently driving 4 percent of global sea-level rise, and sits perched in 2,600-foot-deep waters atop a seafloor “bump” that scientists fear is the last thing holding it in place.

Thwaites is a key part of the reason that recent computer modeling studies have predicted that the Antarctic could double the previously projected rate of sea-level rise during this century.

It’s among the most difficult places on Earth for humans to explore.