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Greenland villagers evacuate as massive iceberg sparks tsunami and flood fears

AFP, July 17, 2018 7:57AM AFP

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Huge icebergs off the coast of Greenland. Picture: istock media_cameraHuge icebergs off the coast of Greenland. Picture: istock


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A massive iceberg is drifting off Greenland, which could cause flooding if it breaks up.

Residents of high-risk areas have been evacuated*.

The 100m-high iceberg was spotted on Thursday close to a village on Innaarsuit Island, which is a part of northwestern Greenland.

“We fear the iceberg could calve* and send a flood towards the village,” Lina Davidsen, from Greenland police, told Danish news organisation Ritzau on Friday. There are 169 residents, but only those living closest to the iceberg have been evacuated, Ritzau reported.

“The iceberg is still near the village and the police are now discussing what do to next,” Kunuk Frediksen, a police chief, told AFP.

Susanne K. Eliassen, a member of the village council*, told the local newspaper that it was not unusual for large icebergs to be close to Innaarsuit.

“But this iceberg is the biggest we have seen … and there are cracks and holes that make us fear it can calve anytime,” she said, adding that the village’s power station* and fuel tanks are close to the shore.

media_cameraThe iceberg next to the Greenland village of Innarsuit. People who live close to the iceberg have been left their homes. Picture: AP

“Nobody is staying unnecessarily* close to the beach and all children have been told to stay in areas that are high up,” Ms Eliassen said.

Scientists at New York University filmed a massive iceberg breaking free from a glacier in eastern Greenland in June.

The New York University film of an iceberg breaking free

An expert warned that extreme* iceberg events will become more frequent*. Icebergs are massive pieces or mountains of floating ice that have broken off a glacier or ice shelf*.

“Iceberg production in Greenland has been increasing in the past 100 years as climate change has become stronger,” William Colgan, senior researcher at the Geological Survey* of Denmark and Greenland, told AFP.

He said the rising number of icebergs are in turn “increasing the tsunami hazards*”. When icebergs first break away from a glacier or ice shelf or when they then break into pieces they move so much water they can make a big and dangerous wave, often called a tsunami or tidal wave. These big waves can flood coastal* land.

Greenland coastline view media_cameraAerial view of the Greenland coastline. Picture: istock


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  • the largest island. Australia and Antarctica are both bigger, but are called continents instead of islands;
  • between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans;
  • an autonomous, or independent, country within the Kingdom of Denmark;
  • geographically part of the continent of North America and closest to Canada;
  • populated mostly by Inuit people, which is an indigenous group also from Canada and Alaska;
  • very, very cold. The average daily temperature of the capital city, Nuuk, is minus 7C to 8C.


  • evacuate: remove someone from danger
  • calve: split or shed a smaller piece
  • power station: where power, usually electricity, is made
  • unnecessarily: in a way that is avoidable or not necessary
  • extreme: serious or really high
  • frequent: happens often
  • ice shelf: a floating sheet of ice attached to land
  • Geological Survey: science organisation that studies land
  • hazards: dangers
  • coastal: on the coast, next to the ocean or sea



  1. How high out of the water is the iceberg?
  2. How many people live in the village? Have they all been evacuated?
  3. What is an iceberg? Where does the ice come from?
  4. How could an iceberg cause a tsunami or tidal wave?
  5. What are three things you now know about Greenland?

1. Spread the news
Imagine you were delivering the news of this iceberg’s size and location to the village on Innaarsuit Island via television news. You need to provide the facts about the iceberg and the danger it presents to the village without creating panic among the residents.

Write a script for the TV news that you would deliver. Practise reading your script adding expression to your voice. When you are confident with it present your news bulletin to your class.

Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science, The Arts – Drama

2. Extension
Use the article and further research to find out about Greenland. Create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Greenland and Australia.

Venn Diagrams are two overlapping circles. In one circle write facts specific to Greenland and in the other write facts specific to Australia and in the overlapping section write facts that are similar to both.

Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Humanities – Geography & Civics and Citizenship, Intercultural Capabilities

Extra Resources: Further information about Greenland.

3. Extension
Watch the video provided of an iceberg calving. It is an impressive sight to see (and hear). Write a paragraph describing what you see on the video to someone who hasn’t seen an iceberg carve. There’s no sound on this video but you can imagine what you could hear if you were actually there. Use lots of adjectives, similes and metaphors to describe the event.

Time: Allow 15 minutes
Curriculum links: English

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.

QUESTION: What ideas do you have for ways to keep people who live near the Greenland coast safe from icebergs and big waves in the future?
Explain your answer using full sentences.

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