August 1, 2008

Melting Glacier, Eroding Shore Close Park

A melting glacier and flash flooding fears at a Canadian park on Baffin Island forced officials to evacuate tourists and declare much of the area off-limits.

The Auyuittuq National Park on the island's northeast coast recently witnessed record-breaking warmth and substantial amounts of rain, Parks Canada spokeswoman Pauline Scott told Canwest News Service.

This summer's events are beyond anything we're used to, Scott said from Iqualuit, Nunavut. This is no doubt a result of climate change.

After evacuating 21 tourists, officials declared much of the wilderness reserve closed until geologists and ice experts can assess the fallout from thawing permafrost, eroding lakeshore and a melting glacier, she said.

The Penny Ice Cap, the reserve's primary feature, has been losing water for weeks and warm weather has destabilized the Crater Lake shoreline, she said.

Permafrost has melted in lots of areas, Scott told Canwest. The lakes are held back by moraines that appear to be giving away. We need some advice.