Icefin, the autonomous robotic vehicle created by a team of scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) recently completed an exploration mission to the Doomsday Glacier in Antarctica. The mission was designed to investigate how quickly large sections of the glacier are melting due to climate change.
The results were not what anyone expected: Icefin discovered that the glacier was melting faster than predicted, with an estimated loss of ice volume over the past year alone at a rate much higher than expected. This means that sea levels are rising faster than anticipated, and existing predictions may be wrong.
The team behind Icefin used a combination of traditional observations taken on the ground and data gathered by the robot to figure out how much ice had been lost. They found that the Doomsday Glacier was losing an estimated 24 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to raising global sea levels by 0.07 millimeters each year – more than double current estimates.
The results of the mission were not only alarming but also empowering: they provide valuable data and insights that can be used to design better strategies for responding to sea level rise. WHOI will continue its work with Icefin in order to gain a more detailed understanding of the melting glacier and its effects on the planet.
For now, it seems clear that further action must be taken in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels. Icefin’s findings have created a new sense of urgency to act now and ensure the future of our planet.