Courtesy of The Guardian:
In Alaska and other high, cold places around the world, new research shows that mountains are collapsing as the permafrost that holds them together melts, threatening tsunamis if they fall into the sea.
Scientists are warning that populated areas and major tourist attractions are at risk.
One area of concern is a slope of the Barry Arm fjord in Alaska that overlooks a popular cruise ship route.
The Barry Arm slide began creeping early last century, sped up a decade ago, and was discovered this year using satellite photos. If it lets loose, the wave could hit any ships in the area and reach hundreds of meters up nearby mountains, swamping the popular tourist destination and crashing as high as 10 meters over the town of Whittier. Earlier this year, 14 geologists warned that a major slide was “possible” within a year, and “likely” within 20 years.
In 2015, a similar landslide, on a slope that had also crept for decades, created a tsunami that sheared off forests 193 meters up the slopes of Alaska’s Taan Fiord.
“When the climate changes,” said geologist Bretwood Higman, who has worked on Taan Fiord and Barry Arm, “the landscape takes time to adjust. If a glacier retreats really quickly it can catch the surrounding slopes by surprise – they might fail catastrophically instead of gradually adjusting.”
Now tsunamis are not an unknown thing in Alaska, we quite regularly receive warnings of a possible tsunami triggered by an earthquake somewhere in the world, but they never really arrive.
The last significant one we had was after the 64′ earthquake, and that was a bad one.
But if this new information is at all accurate that means we may find Alaskans scrambling for higher ground with very little notice.
We already have to deal with blizzards, earthquakes, and other harsh weather conditions, I think adding tsunamis to the list is just overkill.