Alaska Personal Injury Attorneys

Located in Anchorage

Retreating Glaciers and Maritime Accidents

Retreating Glaciers and Maritime Accidents

People who are tuned in to news about the environment have probably heard about the retreat of glaciers around the world, including Alaska. The shrinking glaciers, and the general increase in temperatures in and around the Arctic, will have a number of effects on people, including the loss of homes by the shore as sea levels rise.

One effect that many people don't immediately think of is the impact of shrinking glaciers on maritime safety. As glaciers retreat, they'll change the shape of the water and land in their wake. Bodies of water will grow in size, shorelines will change in shape, and there will be new inland channels of water springing up as the ice melts. Anyone who goes out on the water, from tourists to professional fishermen, might face a greater risk of experiencing maritime accidents as the territory they travel through becomes bigger and less familiar.

A recent article from the Huffington Post Raises these concerns, and mentions a couple of accidents, including a cruise ship running aground on a rock in spite of calm weather, and tourists stranded on an ice floe that thawed enough to suddenly drift out onto the ocean.

When these accidents occur, who's responsible? Did a particular tour company, whether a small outfit or a well-known cruise operator, fail to put enough effort into safely charting a course through new waters? Did one of the businesses in the area send workers out into the water without sufficient forethought about safety conditions? As new waters open up, there's always a crowd of companies and individuals who want to visit, explore, or establish themselves on new ground; in all the hustle, there may be more collisions of different watercraft.

Many factors affect maritime safety, from the responsibility of individuals operating boats to broader changes in the environment that bring new risks. Responding to the effects of shrinking glaciers requires caution, knowledge, and good judgment; the absence or diminishment of those qualities could bring about a maritime accident. If you're involved in such an accident, contact us to review the details and see if you were put in a situation with unreasonable and avoidable risks.