Home news Climate change in the Alps - knowledge

Climate change in the Alps – knowledge

  • According to forecasts, the glaciers in the Alps could be completely melted off in the next decades.
  • The development of the Alps is one of the clearest indicators of climate change, according to researchers.

Due to global warming, the glaciers in the Alps could be largely melted by the year 2100. This is what Swiss researchers write in the journal The Cryosphere, They are based on a computer model that takes into account ice flow and melting processes as well as glacier observation data.

The researchers have designed two scenarios: even if global warming could be reduced to below two degrees compared to pre-industrial times by the end of the century, about two-thirds of the glaciers in the Alps were lost over the next 80 years. In the more negative scenario, so the climate should warm up more, more than 90 percent of the ice mass could have disappeared by the end of the century. Only a few spots remain "in this pessimistic case", Matthias Huss of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich quotes in a statement.

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Either way, scientists predict that glaciers in the Alps will lose about half of their mass between 2017 and 2050. In the following years it depends on how the climate develops. "The glaciers in the Alps and their recent development are some of the clearest indicators of climate change," said ETH researcher Daniel Farinotti, who also participated in the study.

The study essentially confirms previous assumptions about the development of glaciers, says climate researcher Ben Marzeion from the University of Bremen, who was not involved in the study. What was new here, however, was that the study considered the movement of the ice. "The ice is deforming, sliding down the mountain – this is explicitly modeled in the study for the first time."

According to Michael Zemp, melting glaciers worldwide accounts for 25 to 30 percent of global sea-level rise. However, the Alps are not the deciding factor because of their relatively small area, unlike, for example, the glaciers in Alaska.

"It happens right now"

Cyclone "Idai", heat waves and the dramatic damage to the Great Barrier Reef: Extreme events are piling up and experts say: The painful phase of climate change has begun.By Marlene White


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