Tsunami caused by global warming

The results of a new study reveal that melted landslides under the sea, caused by global warming, can generate tsunamis.

The study involved scientists from the Institute of Marine Sciences of Barcelona (ICM), the University of Granada, the Andalusian Institute of Geosciences, the University of Malaga, and the Supreme Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) of Spain.

The results of the study indicate that undersea landslides caused by global warming in the Svalbard Islands region (Norway) can generate tsunamis. The formation of tsunami-type waves will be controlled by the evolution of the subsea landslide and its impact through the topography of the sea floor and coast. The results of this work show the need to further investigate the instability of ice edges in future climate scenarios due to the important impact on infrastructures and coastal populations.

Global warming affects the Arctic as ocean water temperatures increase and glaciers decrease in thickness. Both processes lead to an ideal scenario of undersea landslide formation with tsunami potential. To analyze this scenario, the study authors examined the rupture and displacement dynamics of the ancient Storfjorden LS-1 chip, located southwest of the Svalbard Islands, at a depth of between 420 and 1,900 meters, with a length of 60 km, adding volume. 40 cubic kilometers in an area of ​​1,300 square kilometers. The slide has been identified as tsunami waves and modeling shows the formation of tsunamis up to 4.3 metres.

Aerial photo of the coastal area of ​​the Svalbard Islands (Norway). (photo: CSIC)

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In order to understand the impact of global warming on our planet, it is necessary to know the geological processes in the past. Modeling ancient submarine landslides is convenient because it gives us information about geological hazards in coastal regions of the Arctic. Researcher Maite Pedrosa, a researcher at the University of Granada, says that this study reformulates scenarios for the formation of tsunamis due to landslides resulting from global warming that we may face in the future.

The spread of these waves is determined by the presence of ice canyons hundreds of kilometers long that were carved by the Quaternary glaciers on the sea floor. Its morphology determines the amplitude, amplification, and deviation of tsunamis, as well as the impact time on the coasts of the Svalbard Islands.

“This research is important because the findings have a social and economic impact. Geological hazards such as undersea landslides and tsunamis affect coastal communities and the activity of different marine and coastal economic sectors,” stresses Gemma Ercilla, of the Institute of Marine Sciences, attached to CSIC. competent authorities and agencies to develop appropriate mitigation plans to manage the impact of tsunamis.The next steps for the research include studies that focus on the relationship between the different geological processes governed by global warming, such as the balanced earthquake regeneration due to ice loss and landslides and their impact on the cogeneration of tsunamis,” concludes Ercilla .

The study is titled “Simulation of a tsunami triggered by a subsea landslide in an ice rim: the case of Storfjorden LS-1 (southwest of Svalbard Islands)”. It has been published in the academic journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. (Source: Erika Lopez / CSIC)

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