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I will be camping with the team at what is known as the grounding zone. The higher the ice cliff, she says, the more "smooshing" the glacier wants to do. Some go so far as to term it the Doomsday glacier. At its deepest point, the base of the glacier is more than a mile below sea level and there is another mile of ice on top of that. It's a little smaller than Britain, so it's absolutely massive. According to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, the amount of ice flowing out of the Thwaites and nearby glaciers has nearly doubled over the last 30 years. This video on the doomsday glacier explains why. .css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}The images are murky at first. The scientists had told me that we had been camped on what is basically a small bay of ice protected by a horseshoe of raised ground. A look at maps of the region’s ice loss makes this clear, says Nick Holschuh, a […] If it weren't for the ice, it would be deep ocean with a few islands. They need tonnes of specialist equipment and tens of thousands of litres of fuel, as well as tents and other camping supplies and food. In other words, if Thwaites glacier melts, two feet is immediately added to the ocean’s sea levels. The distances are so great they needed to set up another camp halfway down the glacier so the planes could refuel. That is when the satellite phone call comes from the United States Antarctic Program HQ in McMurdo. The glacier is roughly the size of Britain or Florida and already contributes to 4 per cent of sea-level rise each year. In fact, virtually the whole bed is way below sea level. … Suddenly a shadow looms above, an overhanging cliff of dirt-encrusted ice. ‘Teetering at the edge’: Scientists warn of rapid melting of Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday glacier’ Thwaites glacier is losing ice at an accelerating rate, threatening catastrophic sea-level rise. Thwaites Glacier, a huge glacier in the Antarctic, is often called the Doomsday Glacier. Glaciers are huge sheets of ice moving very slowly, and contain vast amounts of water. Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier. "It can set glaciers on fire," says Prof Holland, "increasing melt rates by as much as a hundred-fold.". This is the first of a whole catalogue of delays and disruptions. Only four people have ever been on the front of the glacier before and they were the advance party for this year's work. As the members of the drilling team set up their equipment, I help out with a seismic survey of the bed beneath the glacier. Two ice-hardened ships docked alongside an ice cliff at the foot of the Antarctic Peninsula during the last Antarctic summer. Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier. Thwaites glacier is larger the England and could drive global sea levels up by two feet (60cm) if it were to totally collapse. International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, A TO Z: Climate-related words and phrases explained. By early January, the flubber is full and all the equipment is ready but then we get a warning that yet another storm is on its way. As the front of the glacier melts, the weight of the vast reservoir of ice behind it pushes forward. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. The British Antarctic Survey's contribution was an epic overland journey that brought in hundreds of tonnes of fuel and cargo. I camped on the ice for a month, some of the scientists will be out there for far longer, two months or more. "They already have in the Arctic," says Prof Vaughan with a sigh. For starters, its density contains two-feet of potential sea level. Everyone sets to work with spades, hefting snow into the "flubber" - a rubber container the size of a small swimming pool. By Justin RowlattChief Environment correspondent. The find was made possible thanks to an underwater robot called Icefin, which headed more than 700 metres below the ice of the Thwaites Glacier. Over the past three decades, the rate of ice loss from Thwaites, which is about the size of Great Britain or the US state of Florida, and its neighboring glaciers has increased more than five-fold. West Antarctica is the stormiest part of the world's stormiest continent. It wants to "smoosh out," explains Dr Riverman. Then smaller planes - an elderly Dakota and a couple of Twin Otters - ferried the people and supplies on to the field camps, hundreds of miles down the glacier towards the sea. "When you think about it, we shouldn't be surprised by any of this," says Prof Vaughan as we are preparing to board the plane that will take us back to New Zealand and then home. "I think this is a big step towards helping understand that," he added. The plane flies up over the camp and directly north, out towards the ocean. It is smaller but still huge, and is much more vulnerable to change. Jordan said that suggestions of geoengineering and blocking the channels is not logistically feasible at such a remote site. I've been in Antarctica five weeks before I finally board the red British Antarctic Survey Twin Otter that takes me to the front of the glacier. Evidence from other glaciers shows that if you increase the amount of warm water that is reaching the glacier the ice pump works much faster. The key is the warm seawater, which originates on the other side of the world. © 2020 BBC. "The deep Antarctic circumpolar water is only a handful of degrees warmer than the water above it - a degree or two above 0C - but that's warm enough to light this glacier up," says David Holland, an oceanographer with New York University and one of the lead scientists at the grounding zone camp. Antarctic storms can be very intense. Some of it has been around for millions of years. The glacier holds two feet of sea level but more importantly, it is the "backstop" for four other glaciers which holds an additional 10 to 13 feet of sea level rise. It takes the science teams weeks just to get to their field camps. It is very frustrating to be forced to leave before the hole is finished and the instruments have been deployed, especially given how long it took to get here. What appears to be happening is that deep warm ocean water is flowing to the coast and down to the ice front, melting the glacier. "What we are seeing here in the Antarctic is just another huge system responding in its own way.". Elsewhere, there are cliffs of ice, some of which rise up almost a mile from the sea bed. (CNN)Deep channels discovered under the Antarctic's so-called "Doomsday glacier" may be allowing warm ocean water to melt the underside of ice, according to scientists collecting data from an area crucial to understanding sea-level rise. The scale is staggering and explains why Thwaites is already such an important component of world sea level rise, but I am shocked to discover there is another process that could accelerate its retreat even more. But warm water transforms the process, according to the scientists. The ice in Antarctica holds 90% of the world's fresh water, and 80% of that ice is in the eastern part of the continent. Photographs by Jemma Cox and David Vaughan. Thwaites Glacier, known as the “Doomsday Glacier”, has caused alarm among scientists who warn that it is increasingly likely to live up to its nickname. Officially called the Thwaites Glacier, this mass of ice nestled into the western edge of Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate. Here it becomes part of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, flowing deep - a third of a mile (530m) - below a layer of much colder water. This one is relatively mild for Antarctica but still involves three days of wind gusting up to 50mph. All the delays mean there are just a few weeks of the Antarctic summer left before the weather starts to get really bad. It is a part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land. It is a bit like cutting slices from the sharp end of a wedge of cheese. It means the glacier gets thicker and thicker as you go inland. 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