This melting glacier may cause a 1,000-foot-tall tsunami in Alaska

Retreating under climate warming, Barry Glacier has left a large scarf unsupported and ready to crash into the seas below.


NSFW    ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — A melting Alaskan glacier may set off a landslide and trigger a tsunami in Prince William Sound, according to a public letter by climate scientists and geologists at institutions including the University of Alaska, the Ohio State University and the University of British Columbia.

This event could happen as soon as next year and no later than 20 years from now, they say.

The researchers say the Barry Glacier's retreat inland could send its scarp tumbling down the Barry Arm. A complete failure of the scarp will cause a destructive tsunami to crash down Barry Arm and Harriman Fiord, while partially endangering Port Wells.

If the scarp fails completely, it would raise waves as high as 1,000 feet, which would threaten fishing boats and the hundreds of fishermen and tourists who frequent the region. Even locations far from the Barry Glacier may experience 30-foot tall waves.

According to the letter, climate change is melting Barry Glacier, and the retreating ice has left a swath of the cliff unsupported by its mass. The loose scarp then entered into a slow-motion landslide that is now showing signs of speeding up.
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