Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
The Cryosphere, 15, 3317–3328, 2021
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-3317-2021
The Cryosphere, 15, 3317–3328, 2021
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-3317-2021

Brief communication 19 Jul 2021

Brief communication | 19 Jul 2021

Brief communication: Thwaites Glacier cavity evolution

Suzanne L. Bevan et al.

Data sets

Thwaites Glacier ice surface elevation profiles from June 2011 to November 2020 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/EDE3520B-CF1C-4979-AFCC-94AC266BB61A

Thwaites Glacier time series of surface elevations at (107.09 W, 75.48 S) from January 2012 to November 2020 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/21B3D4FA-0EDF-4B05-B762-B4633616B0BC

Thwaites Glacier time series ice surface flow speeds at (107.09 W, 75.48 S) from January 2012 to December 2020 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/C0C1050A-2360-4464-9B0F-C2C101E5D1C2

Thwaites Glacier ice surface elevation change, December 2013 to July 2017, and July 2017 to November 2020 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/DF8C4AC0-1723-43AE-AD48-D02D58699F32

Thwaites Glacier ice surface speed change from January 2012 to January 2021 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/668BF042-D0DE-4741-A62E-2AE93B6F7106

Video supplement

Animation of Thwaites Glacier ice base and surface elevation profiles from June 2011 to November 2020 Suzanne Bevan, Adrian Luckman, and Douglas Benn https://doi.org/10.5285/C2DFC6B7-DD61-41F9-8624-A45F2CF978DF

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Short summary
The stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet depends on the behaviour of the fast-flowing glaciers, such as Thwaites, that connect it to the ocean. Here we show that a large ocean-melted cavity beneath Thwaites Glacier has remained stable since it first formed, implying that, in line with current theory, basal melt is now concentrated close to where the ice first goes afloat. We also show that Thwaites Glacier continues to thin and to speed up and that continued retreat is therefore likely.