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Big Picture

Blankets... to keep cool

The heat is on for the Rhone Glacier in the Swiss Alps, and people in the region are going to great lengths to prevent the ancient ice structure from melting away under the summer sun.

Over the past 150 years, the glacier, which is the source of the Rhone River and is at least 11,500 years old, has retreated dramatically. So nearby residents have covered the glacier in blankets to minimise the melting .

The Rhone Glacier is not the only one feeling the heat.

Earlier this year, scientists in Australia warned that the largest glacier in eastern Antarctica, which contains ice equivalent to a 6m rise in global sea levels, was melting because of warmer ocean water.

Last month, the International Energy Agency warned that global temperatures could jump by as much as 4.3 deg C by the end of the century, and urged countries to improve their emission-reduction pledges.

Until they do, melting glaciers are sure to remain a hot issue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'Blankets... to keep cool'. Print Edition | Subscribe