Climate, rapid glacier melting

English Section / 2 octombrie

Climate, rapid glacier melting

Versiunea în limba română

Bad news related to the climate is coming at an alarming rate. There isn't a week that goes by without specialists announcing another "catastrophe." Swiss glaciers have melted in the past two years as much as they did between 1960 and 1990, as a result of extreme weather conditions exacerbated by climate disruptions, according to a study cited by AFP. Little snow during the winter and extremely high summer temperatures have caused these natural wonders to lose 10% of their volume between 2022 and 2023, as observed by the group of experts responsible for studying the cryosphere at the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences. Their conclusion is clear: "Swiss glaciers are melting at an increasingly faster rate." Extreme years are becoming the norm: after losing 6% of their volume in 2022, a record year, Swiss glaciers have melted an additional 4% this year. It's the second-largest decline since measurements began. Matthias Huss, who leads the Swiss glaciological recording network (Glamos), explained for AFP that it is "a combination of a very unfortunate succession of extreme weather phenomena and climate change" that makes these extremes more likely. "If we continue at the pace we've seen in recent years - everything is going even faster - every year will be a bad year," he emphasized. "And we've witnessed such strong climate changes in recent years that it's entirely possible to imagine this country without glaciers," added the researcher, noting, however, that decisive action to "stabilize the climate" by rapidly reducing CO2 emissions to zero could allow the preservation of "a third of the ice formed in Switzerland." This would mean that "although all small glaciers will disappear, and large glaciers will be much smaller, there will still be ice in the highest regions of the Alps and a few glaciers that we can show to our grandchildren," Huss explained. Melting has affected this alpine country, known as the "water reservoir" of Europe, due to its 1,400 glaciers that feed numerous lakes, rivers, and streams. In southern and eastern Switzerland, glaciers have melted almost as much as in the record year 2022. In Valais (south) and Engadine (east), a few meters of ice melting were measured at over 3,200 meters, even though just a few years ago, glaciers were still in balance at this altitude. In the winter of 2022/2023, there was very little snow on both sides of the Alps, and the weather was very warm. Consequently, there was much less snow than usual in all resorts.

At an altitude of over 1,000 meters, in the first half of February, the measured snow depth was generally slightly larger than in the winters of 1964, 1990, and 2007, when there was little snow. However, melting reached new records in the second half of February, and the snow depth only reached about 30% of the multi-year average. The dry and very warm month of June caused the snow to melt two to four weeks earlier than usual. According to a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published last year, glacier and snow melt is one of the ten major threats caused by global warming. According to another study published in January by the journal Science, half of the Earth's glaciers, especially small ones, are destined to disappear by the end of the century due to climate change.

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