German glaciers are melting faster than expected, according to a new report. This suggests the country could lose its last in a decade.
Previous predictions estimated the glaciers would survive at least until the middle of the century, but melting has accelerated dramatically in recent years.
The researchers used NASA satellite imagery to analyze all of the world’s nearly 220,000 glaciers. This was the first study to do this.
They found that glaciers in the European Alps could lose almost all of the remaining ice by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions were not limited.
According to experts, the ongoing loss of Alpine glaciers is one of the “clearest indicators” of climate change.
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The Schneeerner is Germany’s largest glacier. Experts predict it could melt within 10 years if current rates of climate change persist
A glacier is a large accumulation of ice, snow, rocks, and sediments that is typically formed over centuries and is constantly moving due to its weight and gravity.
The five German glaciers are located in Bavaria in the southeast: the highest and largest, the Schneeferner, is located on a plateau south of the Zugspitze, the highest peak in the country.
However, the Bavarian Environment Minister Thorsten Glauber warned: “The last Bavarian Alpine glacier could have disappeared in 10 years.”
“The days of the glaciers in Bavaria are numbered,” said Glauber. “And even earlier than expected.”
A map showing the loss of glacier thickness in the European Alps between 2000 and 2019 (in red) and any increases (in blue).
Scientists had previously estimated that German glaciers would exist by the middle of the century, but melting has increased exponentially: in the past decade, they have lost about two-thirds of their volume and their surface has shrunk by a third
Scientists had previously estimated that the glaciers would exist by the middle of the century.
According to a report by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, German glaciers have lost about two thirds of their volume and their surface area has shrunk by a third over the past decade.
The glaciologist Christoph Mayer, who worked on the analysis, said: “The causes and interactions are definitely in climate change.”
The ice floes are “not just a monument to the history of the earth in the form of snow and ice, they are thermometers for the state of our climate,” said Glauber.
According to a new study published in The Cryosphere magazine, the 4,000 glaciers in the European Alps could lose up to 90 percent of their remaining ice by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed.
Even if they are capped, almost half of the region’s ice will be lost by 2050 thanks to pre-existing conditions.
“Glaciers in the European Alps and their recent development are some of the clearest indicators of ongoing climate change,” said co-author Daniel Farinotti from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
The 4,000 glaciers in the European Alps could lose up to 90 percent of their remaining ice by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not dampened. In the picture: A hiker crosses the Watzmann Glacier in Bavaria
“The future of these glaciers is at risk, but there is still an opportunity to limit their future losses.”
The picture is also grim for glaciers around the world that are losing mass exponentially.
In the first 20 years of the 21st century, the world’s glaciers lost an average of 294 billion tons of ice per year – enough to submerge Switzerland under nearly 20 feet of water, according to a study published in Nature this week.
Worldwide, glaciers lose 30 percent more snow and ice every year than 15 years ago.
A map of the regional glacier masses changes from 2000 to 2019. Worldwide, the almost 220,000 glaciers in the world lose 30 percent more snow and ice each year than 15 years ago
For the first time, an international team used detailed NASA satellite observations to analyze all 217,175 glaciers worldwide, with the exception of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
The loss in the Himalayan glaciers “is particularly worrying,” said co-author Romain Hugonnet, a geophysicist at the University of Toulouse.
“During the dry season, glacial meltwater is a major source that feeds major waterways such as the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus,” Hugonnet said.
“Right now, this increased melting is acting as a buffer for the people living in the region. However, if the retreat of the Himalayan glacier accelerates further, populous countries like India and Bangladesh could face water or food shortages in a few decades.”
GLACIERS AND ICE SHEETS THAT MELT HAVE A “DRAMATIC IMPACT” ON GLOBAL SEA LEVELS
Global sea levels could rise up to 3 meters if the Thwaites Glacier collapses in West Antarctica.
The rise in sea levels threatens cities from Shanghai to London, low-lying areas of Florida or Bangladesh, and entire nations such as the Maldives.
For example, in the UK, a rise of 2 meters or more can submerge areas such as Hull, Peterborough, Portsmouth and parts of east London, as well as the Thames Estuary.
The collapse of the glacier, which could begin in decades, could also flood large cities like New York and Sydney.
Parts of New Orleans, Houston and Miami in the southern United States would also be particularly affected.
A 2014 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists looked at 52 sea level indicators in communities in the United States.
It has been determined that the flood disaster will increase dramatically in many locations on the east and Gulf coasts based on a conservative estimate of the predicted sea level rise based on current data.
The results showed that the number and severity of tidal flooding in most of these communities will increase sharply in the coming decades.
By 2030, more than half of the 52 municipalities surveyed will experience an average of at least 24 tidal floods per year in exposed areas, with moderate projections for sea level rise being assumed. Twenty of these communities saw a tripling or more in flood events.
The mid-Atlantic coast is expected to have some of the greatest frequencies of flooding. Places like Annapolis, Maryland, and Washington, DC can expect tidal surges in excess of 150 per year, and several locations in New Jersey could experience 80 tidal surges or more.
In the UK, an increase of two meters would mean that large parts of Kent would be almost completely submerged by 2040. This emerges from the results of a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in November 2016.
Areas on the south coast such as Portsmouth as well as Cambridge and Peterborough would also be badly affected.
Cities and towns around the Humber Estuary such as Hull, Scunthorpe and Grimsby would also face severe flooding.