Antarctica Thwaites Glacier

A pencil-shaped robot is giving scientists their first look, at the forces, eating away at the thwaites glacier in Antarctica.

Two studies published today found the melting rate isn't as fast as feared. But it's not as good news as it might seem. It is nicknamed the doomsday glacier because of its massive melt and sea rise potential and it’s both good and bad news.

With the robot named Icefin lowered down into a 587 meter hole, they saw how important crevasses are in the fracturing of the ice, which takes the heaviest toll on the glacier, even more than melting. The work comes out of a massive 50 million dollar multi-year international research effort, to better understand the widest glacier in the world.

When ice is on ground as part of the glacier it isn't part of sea rise,  but when it breaks off land and then goes onto water it adds to the overall water level by displacement, just as ice added to a glass of water raises its water level.