World

Iceberg 4 miles wide breaks off from Greenland glacier as another threatens to swamp village

AP, AFP-JIJI

An iceberg 4 miles (6 km) wide has broken off from a glacier in eastern Greenland and scientists have captured the dramatic event on video.

New York University professor David Holland, an expert in atmospheric and ocean science, said “this is the largest event we’ve seen in over a decade in Greenland.”

A June 22 video of the incident was taken by his wife, Denise Holland of NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. They had camped by the Helheim Glacier for weeks to collect data to better project sea level changes due to global warming.

Holland said Wednesday that the time-lapse video, which is speeded up 20 times, shows “3 percent of the annual ice loss of Greenland occur in 30 minutes.”

“It sounded like rockets going off,” he 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.”

In northwestern Greenland, another large iceberg has apparently grounded on the sea floor near the village of Innarsuit. Residents with houses near the shore were prepared to evacuate if necessary amid fears it would break apart and trigger flooding.

The authorities have urged residents of the Innarsuit island settlement with houses on a promontory to move away from shore over fears that the iceberg, which was spotted on Thursday, could swamp the area.

“We fear the iceberg could calve and send a flood towards the village,” Lina Davidsen, a security chief at the Greenland police, told Danish news agency Ritzau on Friday.

The settlement in northwestern Greenland has 169 inhabitants, but only those living closest to the iceberg have been evacuated, Ritzau reported.

“The iceberg is still near the village and the police are now discussing what do to next,” Kunuk Frediksen, a police chief in the Danish autonomous territory, said.

Last year, four people died and 11 were injured after an earthquake sparked a tsunami off another island settlement called Nuugaatsiaq, sending several houses crashing into the sea.