A monumentally huge iceberg is floating dangerously close to a Greenland community whose residents fear a devastating tsunami if the ice mountain breaks apart in warming weather.
People close to the shore nearest the 11 million-ton berg were evacuated to higher ground in the remote village of Innaarsuit on Friday. A rescue helicopter has been stationed nearby.
“We fear the iceberg could calve” — break up — and “send a flood towards the village,” Greenland police spokesman Lina Davidsen told Danish news agency Ritzau.
The more than 300-foot-tall iceberg towers over the village of 169 people on the west coast of the country. A video posted on Twitter shows a chunk of ice breaking off the massive block and plunging into the sea, sending large waves curling around shore.
“It’s kind of like, if you lived in the suburbs, and you woke up one morning and looked out, and there was a skyscraper next to your house,” New York University oceanographer David Holland told NPR. “I’d be the first to get out of there.”
The locals are used to big icebergs, but “this is the biggest we have seen,” village council member Susanne Eliassen told the local newspaper Sermitsiaq, the BBC reported. “And there are cracks and holes that make us fear it can calve anytime.”
Four people died last summer after waves triggered by an earthquake hit a settlement in northwestern Greenland, Reuters reported.
It’s been a season of significant melting in Greenland this year, yet another one that appears to be joining the growing list of hottest years on record in the era of climate change.
William Colgan, senior researcher at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told Agence France-Presse that the risk of tsunamis will increase as more icebergs break off in the warming climate.
“Iceberg production in Greenland has been increasing in the past 100 years as climate change has become stronger,” he said.
David Holland was one of a group of NYU scientists who released a video in June showing the dramatic moment when a 4-mile-long iceberg broke away from a glacier in eastern Greenland.
“This is the largest event we’ve seen in over a decade in Greenland,” he told The Associated Press.
The video was shot by his wife, Denise Holland, of the university’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The couple had camped by the Helheim Glacier for several weeks to collect data to project sea level changes caused by global warming.
Check out the time-lapse video below: