Chilling threat

A man in a cave revealed by the melting Sardona glacier in Vaettis, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the country's Alps are expected to reach their highest mass losses in at least 60 years of record-keeping.

Scientists measure how much a glacier has shrunk in a year by looking at the difference between the amount of snow that fell in winter and the amount of ice that melted in summer.

Since last winter, which brought relatively little snowfall, the Alps have sweltered through two big early summer heatwaves - including one last month marked by temperatures of nearly 30 deg C in the Swiss mountain village of Zermatt.

Most of the world's mountain glaciers - remnants of the last ice age - are retreating due to climate change. But those in the European Alps are especially vulnerable because they are smaller with relatively little ice cover.

Temperatures in the Alps are warming at around 0.3 deg C per decade - around twice as fast as the global average.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, glaciers in the Alps are expected to lose more than 80 per cent of their current mass by 2100.

Many will disappear regardless of whatever emissions action is taken now, thanks to global warming baked in by past emissions, according to a 2019 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


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