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The Hidden Message Behind This Viral Photo of an Iceberg in Newfoundland

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In late spring and summer, the coasts of Newfoundland’s small islands are met with a double migration, of sorts. First come the icebergs, massive chunks of ice that float along the stretch of water called “iceberg alley.” Then come the tourists. 

And this year both of these are in high supply. 

That’s because a “bumper crop” of icebergs has suddenly appeared near the town of Ferryland, one to two months earlier than normal, Quartz reports

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The phenomenon is likely driven by a combination of unusual wind patterns and rising global temperatures, which, AP reports, “is accelerating the process by which chunks of the Greenland ice sheet break off and float away.”  

One particularly behemothic iceberg has lodged itself in shallow waters, providing a brilliant photo opp for flocking tourists. 

“We weren’t really prepared for this onslaught of people,” the mayor of Ferryland, Adrian Kavanagh, told a local news outlet. “Gives you a good idea that people are interested in that kind of stuff.”

The town of Ferryland, an iconic spot to watch passing icebergs from, has already seen as many icebergs in the first months of spring as it normally would in an entire season.  

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In 2016, 687 icebergs passed through North Atlantic shipping lanes; this year that number is already over 600, with iceberg season usually lasting through September, according to AP. 

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If all of Greenland were to melt, global sea levels would rise an estimated seven meters (20 feet), inundating coastal areas around the world and sinking entire island nations underwater. As more ice melts in places like Greenland and the Arctic, these areas risk entering into a feedback loop, wherein as ice melts, darker waters absorb more sunlight, in turn accelerating the process of ice melting. 

So, while the premature melting of ice sheets in Greenland may make for a beautiful Instagram post, and booming business in Ferryland, it could portend bad news for our planet.