Alaska’s new climate threat: tsunamis linked to melting permafrost

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This land is your land

Environment

Scientists are warning of a link between rapid warming and landslides that could threaten towns and tourist attractions

Research has found that over the last 30 years landslides in Alaska’s Glacier Bay correspond with the warmest years.
Photograph: Nasa/Operation Icebridge handout/EPA

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.

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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 …

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