Ice in the hole disappeared in the last three years, worrying scientists about future ice loss.
A hole wider than the island of Manhattan is eating away at one of Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers.
Scientists estimate the enormous cavity—1,000 feet high and 6 miles long—previously contained about 14 billion tons of ice, all of which disappeared within the last three years.
It’s the latest bad sign for the Thwaites Glacier, which has recorded some of the most rapid melt rates out of anywhere in Antarctica. Currently thought to be pouring about 50 billion tons of ice into the ocean each year, scientists estimate Thwaites is responsible for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise all on its own.
And they’re worried it could be getting worse.
Some researchers are concerned that the giant glacier could become increasingly unstable in the coming years, eventually spiraling into a pattern of unstoppable retreat. If that were to happen, it could potentially unleash enough ice to raise global sea levels by 10 feet.