What it's about:
Britain and the United States launched a £20 million scientific project this week to study the risks of a rapidly shrinking glacier in Antarctica which is driving up global sea levels.
One hundred scientists will spend five years assessing the stability of Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Florida or Britain, Reuters reports.
Planes, robot submarines and hot water drills will be deployed to West Antarctica to examine whether the collapse of the glacier is likely to begin in the next few decades or centuries, a joint statement by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and U.S. National Science Foundation said.
The study is the biggest scientific partnership between the two nations since the 1940s when they collaborated on a mapping project on the Antarctic peninsula.
Why it's noteworthy:
This project - one of the biggest ever undertaken in Antarctica - highlights mounting global concern about rising sea levels.
Satellite images have already identified massive ice loss in the region, but thorough data analysis on the ground is needed to assess how quickly this will impact sea levels, researchers said.
The sudden collapse of Thwaites Glacier could be devastating, causing sea levels to rise by more than a metre (3 feet) and threatening low-lying cities worldwide, according to experts.
The participation of the United States points to its government’s commitment to studying the effects of climate change, despite President Donald Trump casting doubt on scientific findings that human activities are the cause of global warming and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
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