Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Switzerland’s glaciers have lost 10 percent of their ice mass in five years

The melting of glaciers has broken new records in Switzerland this year; they lost two percent of their ice mass this summer, while over the last five years, they have lost 10 percent of their volume altogether, which is unprecedented in the existing records spanning over 100 years.

The year began with severe cold and plenty of snow in January, with record snowfall in the eastern part of the country in particular, and the snow cover over the glaciers remained 20 to 40 percent thicker than usual even in the relatively cool months of April and May. In some places, there was still six metres of snow in early June.

But during the two week-long periods of intense heat at the end of June and the end of July, the volume of snow and ice melting on Swiss glaciers within just 15 days was equivalent to the country’s total annual consumption of drinking water, says an announcement issued by the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

This year, the average thickness
of many glaciers decreased
by 1–2 metres, with the smaller glaciers shrinking at a particularly high rate. Since the beginning of the 20th century, 500 small glaciers, including
many nameless ones,
have melted altogether.

According to forecasts, practically all Swiss glaciers may disappear by 2050. Simulations run by glacier researchers at ETH Zurich have shown that little could remain of the famous Aletsch Glacier, the longest, 23 kilometres long glacier of the Alps, although one third of this spectacular formation could be saved if international climate targets are met.

In 15 days, the volume of snow and ice melting on Swiss glaciers was equivalent to the country’s total annual consumption of drinking water Photo: Shutterstock

Source: MTI – Hungarian News Agency

Further information: Swiss Academy of Sciences

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