Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica
Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica
Scientists have determined there is no measured data to "indicate thicker than present ice after 4ka" at a West Antarctic study site near the Thwaites "Doomsday" Glacier. Any ice melt observed today is thus "reversible"... and natural.

The Thwaites, Pine Island, and Pope Glaciers in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica are all situated on a hotbed of active geothermal heat flux, which has led to anomalously high regional melt rates. Indeed, "there is a conspicuously large amount of heat from Earth's interior beneath the ice" in the very locations where the ice melt is most pronounced.

While the Earth's crust has an average thickness of about 40 km, in the Thwaites-Pine Island-Pope Glacier region the anomalously thinner crust (10 to 18 km) more readily exposes the base of the ice to 580°C tectonic trenches. The "elevated geothermal heat flow band is interpreted as caused by an anomalously thin crust underlain by a hot mantle," which is exerting a "profound influence on the flow dynamics of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet" (Dziadek et al., 2021).

heat patterns antarctica local glacial melting
© Dziadek, R., Ferraccioli, F. & Gohl, K.a Geothermal heat flow distribution with areas of magnetic data gaps and those with MF7 magnetic data coverage ( shown in gray. White dashed lines mark location of glaciers: PIG Pine Island glacier, THW Thwaites glacier, PG Pope glacier. b Lithospheric effective elastic thickness29 and the visco-elastic response32. White dashed lines show area of Byrd subglacial basin (BSB) and Bentley subglacial trough (BST). c Compilation of continental-wide6 and local in-situ estimates of geothermal heat flow15,16,34,35. d Tectonic features of the study region. The high geothermal heat flow region (A) is surrounded by the Thurston Island Block (TIB), Ellsworth–Whitmore Mountain (EWM) block and Marie Byrd Land (MBL). The Mount Murphy Rift (MMR)54 correlates with a suite of NNE–SSW trending magnetic lineaments (marked with white lines). The Pine Island rift (PIR) is shown as part of the Thurston Island block.
Despite the established natural causes of ice melt this region (see also Schroeder et al., 2014, Loose et al., 2018), it has nonetheless become commonplace for those who believe human behaviors are the climate's "control knob" to claim the melting of the Thwaites Glacier - dubbed the "Doomsday Glacier" by alarmists - is caused by humans driving gasoline-powered trucks or using natural gas for energy.

But a new study categorically undermines claims that the ice melt occurring in the Thwaites-Pine Island-Pope Glacier region is unusual, unprecedented, or unnatural.

The thickness of the ice sheet at this Amundsen Sea region site averages about 40 m today.

Scientists (Balco et al., 2023) have used cosmogenic-nuclide concentrations and bedrock cores to determine the ice sheet is presently around 8 times thicker than it was for most of the last 8,000 years of the Holocene, when the ice thickness ranged between 2 m and 7 m.

"...the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) at a site between Thwaites and Pope glaciers was at least 35m thinner than present in the past several thousand years"
glacier thickness study
© Balco, et al
Image Source: Balco et al., 2023

Even more interesting, the scientists found there are "no exposure-age data in the Amundsen Sea region indicating thicker than present ice after 4 ka," suggesting that the present thickness is close to the most pronounced it has been over the last 4,000 years.

Any ice melt from this region, then, is not only natural, but the opposite of "unprecedented." The scientists thus characterize modern changes to the West Antarctic ice sheet as "reversible" instead.