As the salty, relatively warm ocean water meets the ice, it’s causing “vigorous melting” underneath the glacier, which could mean that global sea level rise projections are being underestimated. This is according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Philippine Volcano Erupts, Spewing Plumes 5,000 Meters High Philippine Volcano Erupts, Spewing Plumes 5,000 Meters High

The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica — nicknamed the “Doomsday Glacier” because its collapse could cause catastrophic sea level rise — is the world’s widest glacier and roughly the size of Florida. It’s also Antarctica’s most vulnerable and unstable glacier, in large part because the land on which it sits slopes downward, allowing ocean waters to eat away at its ice.

Thwaites already contributes 4% to global sea level rise, and it holds enough ice to raise sea levels by more than 2 feet. But because it also acts as a natural dam to the surrounding ice in West Antarctica, scientists have estimated its complete collapse could ultimately lead to around 10 feet of sea level rise — a catastrophe for the world’s coastal communities.

Editor: Albert Owen