Could melting ice caused by warming and climate change cause earthquakes and tsunamis? The answer is yes.
On May 14, a team of climate scientists from various universities in the United States addressed a letter to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources-ADNR warning of the possibility of a devastating tsunami imminent. In Prince William’s Fjord, Alaska.
Scientists attributed this, according to the report published on the “Science Alert” website on October 19, to landslides in rocks, which lose their stability with the melting of glaciers expected in the next two decades. Scientists believe that these gradual collapses could cause a devastating tsunami within the next 12 months.
The retreat of glaciers in Prince William’s Strait along the southern coast of Alaska appears to be negatively affecting the mountain slopes of the Barry Arm Strait, about 97 kilometers (east of Anchorage), which is the largest city in Alaska.
Satellite imagery analysis indicates the appearance of a rocky scar in the Bari Strait plateaus; Due to the retreat of the Bari glacier, which is experiencing continuous melting. This indicates an already slow-moving gradual landslide over that strait, and scientists fear that any sudden development of this rockslide could have dire consequences.
The team relied in its study on measuring the height of sediments above water, the size of the land that is subject to slipping, and the angle of inclination of the slope, and found that such a collapse would lead to a collapse of 16 times greater and 11 times more severity compared to the landslide that occurred in Lituya Bay in Alaska in 1958 Which then caused the longest tsunami wave in modern times.
The wave reached its maximum height at that time of 524 meters, and was described as being more like an atomic bomb explosion, according to eyewitnesses. In 2015, a slope collapse in Tan Fjord (southeast Alaska) triggered a tsunami that reached a height of 193 meters.
Climate change and tsunami
Scientists believe that the speed of landslides in the slopes can be affected by many factors such as heavy or prolonged rainfall, in addition to earthquakes that can cause fissures.
Hot weather is the most important factor among them, as it leads to melting of ice, which makes the slopes lose their balance, and public opinion agrees that the speed of the retreat of glaciers increases the possibility of more cases of dramatic slope collapse.
Several organizations, including the Alaska Natural Resources Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Geological Survey are continuously monitoring developments in the Prince William Strait to track developments in the Barry Glacier, with the goal of continuously updating predictions about the consequences that could result from the tsunami. Destroyer expected.
The preliminary modeling in the May report, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, indicates an expectation of a sudden major landslide resulting in a tsunami estimated to reach hundreds of feet along the coastline, which will spread throughout Prince William’s Strait and into the bays. And distant straits.
Finally, it can be said that the repercussions of the continuous melting and relatively rapid retreat of glaciers in the era of climate change could cause similar types of landslides, and thus the occurrence of tsunamis in many other places around the world, not just in Alaska.