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the melting of the largest glacier in the Alps worries scientists

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Published on : 01/08/2020 – 20:06Modified : 01/08/2020 – 20:39

It is a giant 23 km long, 11 billion tons of ice, but a giant with feet of clay. In Switzerland, the Aletsch Glacier is rapidly melting like every summer. If nothing is done to reverse the trend, it could even disappear completely by 2100. On the spot, scientists who monitor its evolution helplessly witness its near-programmed death. Reportage.

With our special correspondent on the Aletsch Glacier, Jeremiah Lanche

It takes about an hour and a half of walking from the station of Fiescheralp in Swiss Valais to reach the Aletsch Glacier. The walk is popular with hikers and tourists. Most of them also know that the spectacle that awaits them will not last: “ Impressive. This may be the last time we will see the glacier in this state. »

And in fact, the summer has started its work of undermining. The ice is quickly melting, as Matthias Huss, a researcher at the University of Friborg, observes: “ We can see exactly these masses: it’s very impressive because we have lost almost 3 meters of ice in the last 6 weeks. »

An already significant melting, while the summer of 2020 is for the moment less hot than in previous years. What is true for Aletsch is also true for the 4000 glaciers in the Alps. All threatened in the short term:

« About a third of the glaciers can be saved with very strong and global climate protection, but we will certainly not be able to save the glaciers in Switzerland. »

The planned disappearance of glaciers has serious consequences, for Switzerland, which draws more than half of its electricity from hydropower, but also for the entire Rhône valley, as far as the Mediterranean. In summer, a quarter of the river’s water comes from melting alpine glaciers.

► To read also: In Switzerland, a “funeral march” for an evaporated glacier

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