Part of the Swiss Glacier de Tsanfleuron glacier has melted as a result of the summer heat wave. The melts revealed the pass that had been covered by an ice sheet for over two thousand years. Scientists are sounding the alarm – the melting of the glaciers in the Alps has been progressing at an alarmingly rapid pace for years.
This year, summer in Europe turned out to be particularly hot. In addition to weeks of scorching heat, dry rivers and gigantic fires in the southern and western parts of the continent, high temperatures have also affected the health of the glaciers. If the trend continues, the ice sheets of the highest mountain ranges may disappear very quickly.
As a result of the heat, part of the Glacier de Tsanfleuron glacier located in the Swiss Alps has completely melted, partially revealing a rocky pass at an altitude of 2,800 meters. It separated the main part of the ice sheet from the smaller Scex Rouge glacier.
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According to representatives of the local ski resort Glacier 3000, the leftover ice on the pass is likely to melt by the end of the month.
– We knew that one day the mountain pass would open up, says Bernhard Tschannen from Glacier 3000. – This year was dramatic. We lost about three times more ice than the previous decade’s average, he adds.
Mauro Fischer, a glaciologist at the University of Bern, points out that about 10 years ago the pass was covered with a 15-meter layer of ice, which had almost completely melted until then. In places the snow layer is still 5 meters thick, but at other points it is only a centimeter.
For several years, the Alpine region has been haunted by increasingly warmer summers and ever milder, less snowy winters. This year, however, it was particularly hot there – in some places the temperature reached over 30 degrees Celsiuswhich had an impact on the ice cover. According to data collected as part of the Copernicus project, the average summer temperature in Switzerland this year was 0.4 degrees higher than the previous record year.
“What we’ve seen this summer really goes beyond anything we’ve measured so far,” emphasizes Fischer.
Even if the warming could be stopped suddenly, the researchers said, it would be too late for hundreds of Switzerland’s 1,400 glaciers, which make up about half of all glacier ice in the Alps. One of the “lost” glaciers is the newly separated Scex Rouge, which will not survive separation from Glacier de Tsanfleuron.
“Glaciers are a living mass,” adds Tschannen. – I think it will be gone within a decade.
Main photo source: Reuters