Thwaites Glacier: A Story in Data

Chanel Turner

Global warming, shrinking polar ice caps, sea levels rising… we’ve all heard tales of our seas, and how rapidly they’re changing. Join us as we explore a data visualisation showcasing the global effect of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica melting.

A glacier so large it’s the size of Britain…

In conjunction with our usual #funfactfriday across our social channels, we thought it important to create a supporting Lab that told a strong visual story of this week's #fact, which is perhaps more suited to #doomsdayfriday… but we’ll let you be the judge of that!

Today’s fact is surrounding Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, otherwise known as the "doomsday" glacier.

Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the 'most important' glacier in the world, but also the "riskiest" glacier. It is massive - roughly the size of Britain - and it already accounts for 4% of world sea level rise each year (a huge figure for a single glacier) and satellite data shows that it is melting increasingly rapidly.

Why is it referred to as 'risky' or the 'doomsday' glacier, you ask? There is enough water locked up in Thwaites to raise the world sea level by more than half a metre… GULP!

See an original data visualisation our GIS expert has created to give this sea level change some visual context.

With red signifying any change in sea level, we can see a great deal of red is now part of land mass, but these areas are at the greatest risk of sea level change. In other words, they’ll be under water if the sea level rises by 1 meter.

Scientists, environmentalists and glaciologists the world over are making very clear statements on sea level changes - if we are good to the climate, the sea level rise will be half a meter or less by 2100. But if we do nothing, it is likely to rise a whopping 98cm by the year 2100.

Visualisations like this tell a clear tale with global data, and while these are stories we are reading today, we need to stop them from becoming a reality to future generations.

Thank you to our GIS Cartographer, Heiko Lang for his great work on putting this visualisation together!

See more on Thwaites Glacier here.

See more on sea level changes here.

Related posts
Write a comment