Residents of Innaarsuit fear the 100-metre high berg will break up and cause a tsunami
— A 100-metre (330ft) high iceberg has drifted close to a tiny settlement on Greenland’s west coast, prompting fears of a tsunami if it breaks up.
Authorities have told residents of the Innaarsuit island settlement living near the shore to move to higher ground.
“We fear the iceberg could calve [break apart] and send a flood towards the village,” said Lina Davidsen of Greenland police.
Susanne Eliassen, a member of Innaarsuit’s council, said it was not unusual for large icebergs to be seen close to the community.
“But this iceberg is the biggest we have seen … and there are cracks and holes that make us fear it can calve anytime,” she said.
“Nobody is staying unnecessarily close to the beach and all children have been told to stay in areas that are high up.”
The village’s power station and fuel tanks are located close to the shore.
Police have moved a search-and-rescue helicopter closer to the remote community, which has a population of about 170.
The incidence of icebergs breaking free from glaciers is likely to become more common, said William Colgan, a Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland researcher.
“Iceberg production in Greenland has been increasing in the past 100 years as climate change has become stronger,” he said, while the rising number of icebergs were in turn “increasing the tsunami hazards”.
Last year, four people died and 11 were injured after a landslide caused a tsunami off another island settlement called Nuugaatsiaq, sending several houses crashing into the sea.
The latest incident comes after scientists at New York University released a time-lapse video of a massive iceberg breaking free from a glacier in eastern Greenland last month.
Denise Holland, of NYU’s environmental fluid dynamics laboratory, and David Holland, an expert in atmospheric and ocean science, had camped by the Helheim glacier for weeks to collect data to better project sea level changes due to global warming.
David Holland said it was “the largest event we’ve seen in over a decade in Greenland”.
The video, which is 20 times faster than real time, shows 3% of the annual ice loss of Greenland occuring in 30 minutes.
“It sounded like rockets going off,” David Holland said, describing it as “a very complex, chaotic, noisy event”.
While the couple is studying Greenland, he said that “the real concern is in Antarctica, where everything is so big the stakes are much higher”.
by Staff and Agencies | The Guardian