The quake struck offshore at 10:12 p.m. local time and was located around 500 miles southwest of Anchorage and around 60 miles southeast of Perryville, Alaska, CBS News reported.
"This is a very significant earthquake in size," Alaska Earthquake Center seismologist Michael West told the Anchorage Daily News.
M 7.8 earthquake strikes 105 km SSE of Perryville, Alaska. Tsunami warning canceled. https://t.co/bUwKvi65Lg Le… https://t.co/DlORAa8a2I— USGS (@USGS)1595413807.0
The earthquake initially triggered a tsunami warning for South Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, CBS News reported.
"Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters... hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometers of the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, according to CBS News.
The warning prompted evacuations in towns and cities including Kodiak, Sand Point, Unalaska and Homer, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
"We were in a (city) council meeting and started feeling it rocking, and by the time I got home from the council meeting then the warnings were going and had to turn back around," Unalaska City Manager Erin Reinders told the Anchorage Daily News.
Meanwhile, in Kodiak, residents sheltered in Kodiak High School and the local Catholic school while also trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
"We've got a high school full of people. I've been passing out masks since the first siren sounded," Kodiak School District superintendent Larry LeDoux told the Anchorage Daily News. "Everything's as calm as can be. We've got probably 300, 400 people all wearing masks."
Tsunami warning in kodiak AK https://t.co/pBio9lnWDF— Tyler 🏳️🌈 (@Tyler 🏳️🌈)1595399877.0
The warnings were canceled by 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. However, a tsunami measuring 0.8 feet was reported in the city of Sand Point, according to CBS.
Because of its size and characteristics, Tuesday's quake had the potential to be devastating.
For one thing, it was shallow, measuring six miles, or 10 kilometers, deep, CNN reported.
"Anything below 70 kilometers is considered a shallow quake," CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar explained. "That's important, because shallow earthquakes often cause the most damage, compared to the ones that are deeper, regardless of the strength."
Shallow quakes are also more likely to produce tsunamis, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
West told the Anchorage Daily News that Tuesday's earthquake was more or less the same type as the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.
That earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in North America, with a magnitude of 9.2, CBS explained. The quake and following tsunami killed more than 250 people.
"These are the style of earthquakes which can be very tsunami-producing," West told the Anchorage Daily News.
The fact that Tuesday's quake occurred offshore reduced shaking, West said. Officials did not think the shaking caused any damage.
"No reports of any damage," Kodiak Police Sgt. Mike Sorter told The Associated Press early Wednesday morning, as USA TODAY reported. "No injuries were reported. Everything is nominal."
CNN also reported that more than 20 aftershocks have followed into early Wednesday, ranging in magnitude from 2.8 to 6.1.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that CNN reported the depth of the quake at six miles. CNN has corrected this number to 17 miles. The article has been corrected to reflect this change.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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