In the past century, Alpine glaciers are estimated to have lost about half of their total area.
Today, Italy’s 900 glaciers cover a total area of 370 square kilometres compared to 570 square kilometres half a century ago. The latest studies show a growing fragmentation of the glaciers, and experts believe many could disappear within the next 20 years.
The Careser glacier in the Ortler Alps is one of them.
“The glacier keeps retreating. It has lost 80% of its surface, mostly in the past 25 years. Over the past 15 years, it has melted twice as fast as in previous decades, which means it has lost 50% of its surface since the year 2000. It is likely that within 20 years, nothing will remain of it,” says Alberto Trenti, Director at Meteo Trentino.
Since the start of the 20th century, the Careser glacier has receded more than one kilometre. Nowadays it is divided into 6 parts and dark crevasses appear through the ice layer.
In the past five years alone, the ice level has receded by 4 metres.
The Mandrone glacier is the largest Italian glacier, and it, too, is melting fast according to experts.
“In 2011, the glacier reached up to just a few metres from where we are standing. As you can see, in the space of just a few years we have seen a large setback, and that’s just over a very short period of time,” deplores meteorologist Gianluca Tognoni.
And the unusually hot summer has only made matters worse according to experts, who are warning the glaciers have been melting at an even faster pace.