A giant wave resulting from ice that melted and dropped from a glacier swept five Danish tourists into the icy Kangerluarsuk Fjord on Greenland's west coast Sunday, killing two. The tragedy occurred while the group of 15 tourists from a boat stood on a plateau at the glacier to take pictures. 'Witnesses said that there was suddenly a loud sound like a helicopter and a huge wave came pouring in on them.'
Experts expect more glacial waves - Increasing temperatures in the Arctic mean that glacial waves like the one that killed two Danish tourists in Uummannaq, Greenland, this weekend will become much more common, according to ice experts. The phenomenon, known as jokulhlaup, occurs when lakes formed by glacial melt water burst through the ice. A similar phenomenon took place in the Kangerlussuaq area last August. No one was killed, but the event resulted in a large lake being completely drained in 12 hours, spreading large chunks of ice on roads. Jokulhalup occur without warning and typically take place in parts of glaciers where melt water has gathered on top of glaciers, or where glacial lakes have formed. If the floods occur near populated areas, they can shatter bridges, roads and buildings. They can also have a dramatic effect on the terrain and wildlife in unpopulated areas. In a related story, the tourism industry says it will investigate reasons for Sunday's glacial wave in order to ensure that similar accidents do not occur in the future. The national tourism and business council hoped to determine whether this was an isolated incident. 'We need to know if we should warn people against coming too close to glaciers unless you are with an expert.' Image: A glacial lake as it appeared after it was drained by a glacial wave last August