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Alpine glaciers: knowledge busters could break

Alpine glaciers: knowledge busters could break

Apparently, the longest glacier in the Eastern Alps, is facing a fateful summer. Glaciologist Andrea Fischer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences said recently at the ORF that the bottom of Austria’s largest glacier is connected only to the top by a very thin ice strip. This thin strip rests on a very dark, sun-warmed rock. If it melts this summer, the glacier will split in two, disrupting the supply of ice to the lower part. The result would be that the ice tongue will melt in the next 10 to 20 years, according to Fisher.

The past half-winter was unusual, write Andrea Fischer and Hans Wiesneger, heads of the Salzburg State Hydrographic Service, in “Glacier DiaryOctober was very dry, and the first significant rainfall came only at the end of November. However, the dry snow that fell was not able to contact the underground soil.

The glacier shrank by 43 meters last year

Since in many areas strong winds blew with snow, ice flew due to ice. According to the researchers, the glacier was “completely swept away by the winds”, especially in the exposed areas. Only in April was the warmest snowfall able to merge with ice. The amount of precipitation was also very low in this winter half year.

This path is a problem for glaciers because they usually have a thick layer of snow in winter. This layer of snow reflects sunlight better than dark glacial ice, protecting it from high temperatures. However, Fischer and Wiesenegger also state that much depends on the course of the summer half year. “Now we are only at the end of the first half, anything is still possible.”

Things also don’t look good for Pasterze as a whole. Current report on the glaciers of the Austrian Alpine Club It shows that Pasterze has decreased in length by 42.7 meters compared to the measurement period the previous year, and only the Schlatenkees lost in the rifle group more than that. According to the Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), the thickness of the ice in the lower part of Pasterze decreases by about nine meters per year, and in the part covered with debris it is 3.75 meters per year.

by 2050 This is what Swiss climate researchers estimated a few years agoAlpine glaciers will likely lose about half their volume as of 2017, regardless of how climate protection continues by then. However, in the second half of the century, it will be critical how decisively humanity acts or not: if we succeed in limiting warming to a maximum of two degrees, at least a third of the current volume of ice could remain. If warming continues unabated, the Alps can be virtually ice-free, with few patches of ice at very high altitudes.