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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 10, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 10, 995-1002, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-995-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 10, 995-1002, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-995-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 12 May 2016

Research article | 12 May 2016

Multi-method observation and analysis of a tsunami caused by glacier calving

Martin P. Lüthi and Andreas Vieli Martin P. Lüthi and Andreas Vieli
  • Institute of Geography, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Glacier calving can cause violent tsunami waves which, upon landfall, can cause severe destruction. Here we present data acquired during a calving event from Eqip Sermia, an ocean-terminating glacier in west Greenland. During an exceptionally well-documented event, the collapse of 9 × 105m3 ice from a 200m high ice cliff caused a tsunami wave of 50m height, traveling at a speed of 25–33ms−1. This wave was filmed from a tour boat at 800m distance from the calving face, and simultaneously measured with a terrestrial radar interferometer and a tide gauge. Tsunami wave run-up height on the steep opposite shore at a distance of 4km was 10–15m, destroying infrastructure and eroding old vegetation. These observations indicate that such high tsunami waves are a recent phenomenon in the history of this glacier. Analysis of the data shows that only moderately bigger tsunami waves are to be expected in the future, even under rather extreme scenarios.

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Glaciers flowing into the ocean sometimes release huge pieces of ice and cause violent tsunami waves which, upon landfall, can cause severe destruction. During an exceptionally well-documented event at Eqip Sermia, west Greenland, the collapse of a 200 m high ice cliff caused a tsunami wave of 50 m height, traveling at a speed exceeding 100 km h−1. This tsunami wave was filmed from a tour boat, and was simultaneously observed with several instruments, as was the run-up of 15 m on the shore.
Glaciers flowing into the ocean sometimes release huge pieces of ice and cause violent tsunami...
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