Thwaites Glacier is one of the most crucial pieces in the future of Earth's climate, and as such, understanding its behavior is a high priority for scientists. A team of 100 scientists from the U.K. and the U.S. recently visited the glacier and recorded the first ever video from underneath the ice.
The Thwaites Glacier helps hold back a lot of the ice on West Antarcica, ice that if released could raise the world's sea levels 10 feet. As such, scientists are keenly interested in learning more about the Florida-sized piece of ice, particularly the dynamics of its potential collapse. As Robin Bell, a scientist focused on Antarctica at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said: "Thwaites is a superhighway delivering ice to the ocean."
Scientists are particularly concerned about the glacier, as the shape of the bedrock beneath it has allowed warmer seawater to flow beneath it, thereby carving out an increasingly large space and making the potential for collapse stronger and stronger. As such, scientists have worked to investigate the grounding zone, the area where free-floating ice meets the bedrock, which can offer significant insights into the glacier's dynamics.
To go beneath the ice, researchers used a hot water drill to bore a hole through the glacier, through which they lowered the necessary equipment. Bell says the resultant video was like "seeing the surface of the moon for the first time." While the video provides invaluable data for scientists, it also shows an absolutely otherworldly view. Check it out above to see the unique footage.