Massive glacier collapse sends tourists fleeing at famous lagoon in Iceland
Tourists admiring a glacier in Iceland had to flee on March 31 after big slabs of ice collapsed triggering a large wave. About a dozen people were observing the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, part of Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland, when chunks fell in the water below creating a large wave rushing towards the shore. All the tourists appear to have made it to safety and no one was reported injured. Read more: https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/massive-glacier-collapse-sends-tourists-fleeing-at-famous-lagoon-in-iceland/70007865
Tourists gathered on Sunday at the far end of Iceland's Jökulsárlón Lagoon to behold the majestic Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. As the two dozen or so tourists fixed their gaze on the frozen colossus, a cracking sound could be heard cutting through the chilly air -- and then a massive piece of ice began to break off of the glacier. As the huge ice chunks tumbled into the lagoon, the onlookers ooh'd and ahh'd while a few took videos using their smartphones.
Perched on a ridge just above where most of the tourists were watching was Stephan Mantler. His camera was fixed on Breiðamerkurjökull and it was rolling.
Mantler, 44, captured the entire dramatic scene on video. First, there was an enormous splash when the ice chunks plunged into the water. Then, what looked like a mini-tsunami followed, sending a giant wave racing right toward the tourists. Mantler's video shows the tourists running for their lives, jumping over ice chunks on the shore of the famous Icelandic lagoon, before the water flooded the shoreline.
Tourists watch Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier at Jökulsárlón Lagoon in Iceland. Mountain tour guide Stephan Mantler captured video of a huge piece of the glacier collapsing into the lagoon and causing a huge wave. (Facebook / Stephan Mantler)
"Everybody in the area was briefed by their guide that if a collapse happens they must leave the beach and search [for] higher ground immediately, which is exactly what happened," Mantler told AccuWeather in an email. Mantler is a full-time mountain guide and on Sunday "was on an elevated viewpoint with my single client, so my customer was not exposed to risk at any time." Mantler said that's why he was able to continue filming the spectacular event, while others had to flee.
Mantler hails from Austria originally and moved to Iceland in 2013. He lives on a small farm with his wife, Inga, "and our 30 horses, six chickens, three sheep, and one border collie." Together, they own and operate Háfjall, a small mountain-touring company.
He said he lives about an hour from Jökulsárlón, which is situated near Iceland's southeast coast. According to a 2017 Reuters report, Jökulsárlón Lagoon appeared about 90 years ago as the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier began gradually melting. The lagoon has since become the country's deepest lake, the report continued.
Breiðamerkurjökull and the glaciers around it are rapidly retreating and could completely disappear in as few as 200 years, scientists have warned.
NASA scientists last week released a report showing that a fabled glacier in neighboring Greenland, which has been the planet's fast-shrinking ice mass for years, is showing signs that it's growing again.
For Mantler, these calvings, as they are known, are commonplace, but he said he too has noticed the glacier retreating at a rapid pace. "I can tell you for sure that where this particular glacier is resting on solid bedrock, it has lost about 15 meters (approximately 45 feet) in thickness and receded by roughly 100 meters (approximately 300 feet) -- in a single year.
"While calvings are fairly frequent at this time of the year, this was an extraordinarily large event and much closer to the shore than usual, which is why it was such a close call," Mantler explained. "In the end, most importantly, nobody got hurt or even wet."
They are also occasions to behold and to document, he added. "I’ve more or less made it a sport to capture more calvings there on camera than any other guides," he declared, estimating that he's shot video of 10 or 15 calvings this winter so far.Report a Typo
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