Alps: 90% of Glaciers Could Melt by the End of the Century

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90 percent of glaciers in the Alps could melt by end of the century

According to a study published Tuesday 9th April, 2019 by Swiss researchers, alpine glaciers are very threatened by global warming and could almost disappear.

New example of the ravages of global warming. The Alpine glaciers may melt more than 90% by the end of the century if nothing is done to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a study published on Tuesday 9th April, 2019.

Some 4,000 alpine glaciers, tourist attractions that also provide water for millions of people in the summer, are threatened by emissions related to human activity.

Several scenarios

A team of Swiss researchers used climate models coupled with glacier measurements to estimate their evolution under various warming scenarios.

If emissions reach a ceiling within a few years before rapidly decreasing to 2100, only a third of the volume of these glaciers would survive.

But if emissions continue at their current rate, the prediction is even darker.

“In this pessimistic scenario, the Alps could be almost ice-free by 2100, with only a few isolated pieces at high altitudes, which would represent 50% or less of the current volume,” explains Matthias Huss, researcher at ETH Zurich and co-author of the study.

Essential water

And whatever efforts are made to reduce emissions, the Alps will lose at least half of their glaciers , warn these scientists, stressing the importance of these ice giants.

“A glacier is a reservoir. A healthy glacier melts in summer and grows in winter. This means that at times when people need water most, they get it from the glacier, “says Harry Zekollari of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

“If the glaciers disappear, you lose those tanks. In the Alps it may be bearable, but in the Andes or the Himalayas, billions of people really need this water, “he says, noting also the risks of floods, landslides and floods. impact on tourism.

The glaciers of the Alps contain about 100 km3 of ice, the equivalent of 400 million Olympic swimming pools. But they are not the only ones to melt.

9000 billion tons of ice lost in 25 years

Another study published Monday in Nature estimates that the melting of glaciers around the world has accelerated over the last three decades.

Glaciers lost 9000 billion tons of ice between 1991 and 2016, resulting in a 2.7 cm rise in sea level, according to Irstea (National Institute for Research in Science and Technology for the Environment and Agriculture ) who participated in the study.

The glaciers that contributed the most to this increase were Alaska, Patagonia and Arctic regions. Those of the Alps, smaller, played only a “minor” role.

“Overall, we lose each year about three times the volume of ice stored throughout the European Alps,” commented glaciologist Emmanuel Thibert.

That’s 335 billion tonnes a year, which now accounts for 25 to 30 percent of global sea level rise, even though the potential for ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica to raise the level of the oceans is much more important.

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