July 18 (UPI) — The massive iceberg parked ominously outside Innaarsuit, a small village on Greenland’s western coast, looks less intimidating from a few hundred miles away.
That’s the vantage offered this week by NASA, which posted a photo of the iceberg captured by its Landsat 8 satellite.
The satellite’s Operational Land Imager captured a natural color photograph of northwestern Greenland and Baffin Bay earlier this month. The image, offering a view from 435 miles above Earth’s surface, shows the iceberg before it became grounded on a shallow strip of seafloor just offshore from Innaarsuit.
The phenomenon is relatively common, but this particular iceberg is worryingly big, rising 300 feet above sea level and dwarfing the nearby village. And while the juxtaposition makes for good photography — both from ground level and space — the iceberg has local authorities concerned.
Should the iceberg suddenly break apart, the resulting tsunami waves could flood parts of the village. Some of the village’s 170 residents have abandoned lower-lying homes, seeking shelter on higher grounds. An emergency rescue helicopter has been stationed nearby.
“This iceberg is the biggest we have seen … and there are cracks and holes that make us fear it can calve anytime,” Susanne Eliassen, a member of the town council, told The Guardian. “Nobody is staying unnecessarily close to the beach and all children have been told to stay in areas that are high up.”
Some glaciologists believe icebergs are becoming more common as Greenland’s glaciers retreat and break apart. Last week, a group of NYU researchers shared footage of a massive iceberg breaking away from a glacier and flowing down the fjord toward open ocean.
Earlier this week, scientists published a new study confirming the link between global warming and glacial ice loss.