STORY: Switzerland's glaciers are melting at record rate,
shrinking their overall volume by 10% in the last two years, according to a Swiss monitoring body.
"It is really possible that we are going to see an almost complete disappearance of glaciers in the Alps.”
Switzerland is home to more than half of the glaciers in the Alps.
And temperatures there are rising fast, around twice the global average due to climate change.
In 2023, Swiss glaciers suffered their second worst melt rate after record 2022 losses.
It means they lost as much ice in two years as in the three decades before 1990.
Matthias Huss leads monitoring body Glacier Monitoring Switzerland - GLAMOS.
“This year was very problematic for glaciers because there was really little snow in winter, almost record low snow depth, and the summer was very warm. The combination of these two factors is the worst that can happen to glaciers. And then of course, there is climate change that makes such extreme events as we have seen them in the last two years much more likely.”
August 2023 was the peak melt month.
Pictures posted by Huss on social media during recent data collection trips
show for the first time on record new lakes forming next to glacier tongues.
In some places, bodies lost long ago have been recovered as ice sheets shrunk.
“We are really losing the small glaciers. The remnant ice is becoming covered by rocks and debris, regions that have been snow and ice covered over the last decades and centuries are becoming just black slopes that are dangerous because of rockfall.
In other places, GLAMOS had to cease monitoring due to the melt.
"So many different things change in the Alps, and this is impressive to witness.”