The tongue of land that makes up Tsanfleuron Pass it hadn’t been outdoors in 2,000 years and Roman times: a dry winter and heat waves that scorched Europe this summer have managed to beat back the remaining ice.
The pass is located at the junction of that glacier and the Scex Rouge glacier, at an altitude of about 2,800 metres, between the cantons of Vaud and Valais, in the southwestern switzerland. It is located in the Glacier 3000 ski resort.
For several days, the tongue of land can be seen completely uncovered, despite the fact that “In 2021, a measurement had revealed an ice thickness of about 15 meters in that area”Glacier 3000 said in a statement.
For Mauro Fischer, a glaciologist at the University of Bern, “the thickness loss of the glaciers in the Diablerets region will be, on average, three times higher this year compared to the last 10 years.”
But the melting phenomenon – currently accelerated – does not occur only in this part of Switzerland.
Glaciers have lost 50% of their volume since 1931according to a study published in August in the scientific journal The cryosphere by researchers who, for the first time, have managed to reconstitute the retreat of glaciers in the 20th century.
The melting of ice in the Alps – which experts blame on climate change – has been closely watched since the early 2000s, but until now, little was known about its evolution in the preceding decades.
For the study, the glaciologists used archival images (21,700 photographs taken between 1916 and 1947) covering 86% of the Swiss glacial area and stereophotogrammetrya technique that determines the nature, shape, and position of an object using images.
According to these experts from the Zurich Polytechnic (EPFZ) and the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), “compared with the data from the 2000s, (…) it had been halved between 1931 and 2016″.
The study authors also found that glaciers have not retreated continuously in the last century: in fact, there were even times of increasing their mass in the 1920s and 1980s.
But at present, the ice is melting faster and faster: In just six years (between 2016 and 2022), they lost 12% of their volume, according to the Swiss glacier monitoring network GLAMOS.
Matthias Huss, director of GLAMOS, highlighted the seriousness of the situation this year. “Other years, such as 2011, 2015, 2018 or even 2019, we already saw a very strong thaw. (But) the year 2022 is really different and breaks all records”, told the ATS-Keystone agency.
(With information from AFP)
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