Glaciers in Switzerland have lost 6% of their volume due to heat waves

Glaciers in Switzerland have lost 6 percent of their total volume this year A report issued Wednesday said that the dry winter and successive summer heat waves “broke” the melt records in 2022.

The study by the Cryosphere Committee (CC) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences showed the magnitude of glacier loss, which will only get worse in the future.

“2022 was a disastrous year for Swiss glaciers: all melt records were broken,” according to the Coordination Committee, according to which the 2 per cent loss in 12 months was previously considered “severe”.

The report stated that three cubic kilometers of ice had melted.

“The short-term melting cannot be stopped”Glaciology professor Matthias Haas, head of the Department of Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland, which documents long-term changes in Alpine glaciers and is coordinated by the CC.

He told AFP that if CO2 emissions were reduced and the climate protected, “a third of the total volume could be saved in Switzerland at best”.

On the other hand, the country “He will have lost everything by the end of the century”.

desert dust

At the beginning of the year, the snow cover in the Alps was exceptionally light, then a large amount of sand dust from the Sahara desert arrived between March and May and settled on the surface.

Polluted snow is now absorbing more heat and melting faster, depriving glaciers of their protective layer in early European summer.

The constant heat between May and early September washed away the glacial ice.

By mid-September, the once-thick ice sheet covering the passage between the Scex Rouge and Tsanfleuron glaciers had completely melted, exposing rocks that had been covered in ice since at least Roman times.

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At the beginning of July, a section of the Marmolada glacier, the largest section of the Marmolada glacier, collapsed The Italian Alps, which left 11 people dead, showed the seriousness of the situation.

According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in February, melting snow and ice is one of the ten threats to climate change.

Small glaciers affected

“The loss was particularly tragic for the small glaciers,” according to the CC.

The commission said the glaciers Pizol, Vadret dal Corvatsch and Schwarzbachfirn “virtually disappeared, and measurements have stopped”.

The report stated that in the Engadin and South Valais regions, both in the south, “a layer of ice four to six meters thick at 3,000 meters above sea level has disappeared.”

Significant losses have also been recorded even at the highest measurement points, such as the Jungfraujoch mountain at an altitude of about 3,500 metres.

“Observations reveal that many glaciers are disintegrating and pieces of rock are digging through the thin ice between the glaciers. These processes are accelerating the decline,” the report says.

“The trend reveals the importance of glaciers for water and energy supplies in hot and dry years,” the document adds, a relevant issue given that 60 percent of Switzerland’s electricity comes from water sources.

Water from melting glaciers in July and August of this year could have provided enough water to completely fill all reservoirs in the Swiss Alps.

But Haas said so If the country goes back to 2022 weather conditions in 50 years, “The effect will be much stronger, because in 50 years, we hope that almost all of the glaciers will be gone, so they will not provide water for a hot, dry summer.”

shocking results

The melting of the ice also had unexpected consequences.

Hikers often encounter harrowing discoveries when they come across bodies that have emerged from the ice that has trapped them for decades or even centuries.

For archaeologists, this can be a catalyst, because suddenly they have access to objects that are thousands of years old.

while, The melting of a glacier between Italy and Switzerland has modified the boundaries that run along the watershedThis led to protracted diplomatic negotiations.

Swiss glaciers are melting due to climate change

Switzerland’s glaciers are melting like never before, so much so that their size has shrunk by 6% this year, according to a new study released Wednesday amid a heat wave in Europe and growing fears of global warming.

The Swiss Academy of Sciences reports that ice shrinkage has surpassed the record set by almost a generation.

2022 was a terrible year for glaciers“All records for melting have been broken in the face of the scarcity of snow during the winter and the persistence of heat waves in the summer,” the academy said in a statement.

The study was based on data collected by Glamos, the glacier monitoring network in Switzerland, the country with the largest volume of glaciers.

Matthias Haas, a glaciologist at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich and director of the Glamus program, said there is a “zero chance” of glaciers recovering for several decades – at best – given current projections of global warming.

“We’ve studied it for over 100 years and have never seen anything that can compare to what happened this year.”Haas said in a phone interview.

“It’s something we thought was going to happen sometime in the future, but it has already happened,” he added.

Melting was due to ‘An unfortunate combination of factors’Hass said. The ice cover in the Swiss Alps has been very thin this year, especially in the southeast, so the glaciers have been less protected from the heat.

Then a cloud of dust from the desert covered parts of Europe in the spring, forcing the snow to absorb more solar heat. Higher temperatures in Europe in summer have increased the melting of glaciers.

The findings add to another study, released last month, that shows 1,400 glaciers in Switzerland have lost more than half of their total volume since the early 1930s.

Wednesday’s report details the impacts suffered by the Swiss Alps: More than 6 meters (19.6 feet) of ice melted at the summit of Concordiaplatz on the Aletsch glacier in the south near the Italian border.


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