A team of geologists has been tracking a shrinking glacier on the Monte Rosa mountain on the border between Italy and Switzerland.
The research makes for grim reading; the stark reality is that in only a few decades it could disappear completely.
The vast Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in the Alps and a paradise for skiers and snowboarders.
It also acts as a real time experiment for observing climate change.
Giovanni Mortara is a geologist from the National Research Council in Italy: “We’ve seen a substantial reduction in the thickness of the ice, some metres per year, and this year we’re even talking about some 10 centimeters a day.”
Geologists are measuring the thickness and the movements of the glacier. Over recent decades, the ice cover of the Monte Rosa east face saw an accelerated and drastic disappearance. Some glaciers have completely vanished. Scientists, view the longterm forecast with great foreboding.
Silvio Seno is a geologist from the university of Pavia: “There isn’t only one possible scenario for the future. In the most optimistic one, the global temperature will rise by around one degree or just under one degree within a century. In the most dramatic one, there will be a much greater rise, around five degrees on average, which is a huge amount. Naturally the effect on the glaciers, in either the more positive or more negative scenarios, would be very serious and would mean the Alpine glaciers’ disappearance.”
The problems are already in evidence the nearby villages are seeing a shortage of fresh water from the mountain and hamlets are under threat from the increasing number of rockslides.