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Event Details

Glacier Melting event report

Category: Glacier Melting
Observation: 08.05.2010
Continent: Europe
Country: Austria
State:
Area: Alps Glaciers
Location:
Severity: Hight
Event details
91% of them reduced in size last year. Some by as much as 46 meters according to the latest figures. The Austrian Alps Society has released the statistics and it makes worrying reading for environmentalists and those concerned about the mountain landscape. The sharpest decline was some of the glaciers in the Tyrol on the mountains of the Niederjochferner, the Kesselwandferner and the Marzellferner. The Society has been studying the glaciers and their size for over 100 years. One glacier did actually grow last year, but only by a few centimetres. The melting is put down to rising summer temperatures. PlanetSKI reported from the glacier region above Saas-Fee in Switzerland last summer.However although there is no doubt that the glaciers are melting due to rising temperatures it is not clear cut exactly why the temperature is going up. The consensus is that it is global warming caused by man's reliance on fossils fuels, but not everyone agrees with this. Some believe it is part of a wider and natural climate change affecting the Earth. There is also a coherent theory that winter temperatures may actually get colder as the jet stream moves due to solar activity. We have reported on it here on PlanetSKI and it makes fascinating reading. Mother earthMother EarthSome alpine glaciers though retreating in length are actually gettign thicker on top as more snow falls. Whatever the cause and future developments it is an undoubted fact that overall the alpine glaciers are retreating at a sharper rate in recent years. It is the same in other parts of the world. In Ecuador a study to be published this year by Ecuadorean glaciologist, Bolivar Caceres, suggests that the country's glaciers lost more than 40% of their surface area between 1956 and 2006. For more information on the glaciers in Ecuador see this recent story on the BBC. However we should also perhaps not forget that glaciers have been a torment to mankind in the past. We may view them as objects of beauty now and feel sad about their retreat but when they grew and expanded they were very much "the enemy." In the 1700's the glaciers above Chamonix grew by as much as 450m in the winter encroaching on pastures, destroying buildings and farms. They were feared and depicted as tools and the work of the devil in some paintings at the time.
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